It is really ‘expensive’ to be late for a UK visa appointment


March 13, 2018 | 12:25 pm
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For those used to ‘Africa time,’ it is going to cost you a lot of money if you have an appointment at any of the UK visa processing centres in Lagos.

So, I had an appointment at the Ikeja visa processing centre. My appointment was supposed to be at 1.00 pm, but for some reason, thought the appointment was at 1.30 pm. So even though I got there at about 12.30 pm, I decided to run to the nearest branch of my bank, which was not too far away, to print a copy of my bank statement, which I had not taken with me.

But then, when you are in a hurry, the peculiar Nigerian situation tends to play tricks on you. The printers at the bank just refused to print statements. So, instead of spending an average of 30 minutes to get my bank statements, I left in about one hour later without even getting the bank statement. A price I paid for leaving things late.

I rushed back to the visa processing centre at about 1.30 pm and was told immediately that I was late. That was the first shock. So I asked what were my options. The security men, which in line with the tradition most security men at most embassies, were in no way polite, told me that I had to immediately pay N30,000 for them to allow me in or else I have to go back to rebook my appointment, which would cost higher. This was an official fee since I would be allowed to pay with my payment card.  I was stuck. I did a quick calculation and taking my schedule into consideration, I decided to pay the N30,000 instead so that I can go ahead with the appointment for that day.

Then by some ‘divine intervention’ they could not find my name on the list of those who had an appointment at 1.00 pm. However, I had a printout showing I had an appointment. I did not only have an appointment, but have also paid for the use of the premium lounge, which I thought should give me some privileges, including the ‘privilege to come a bit late.’ After all, it would only be busy executives that would pay an extra fee to use the premium lounge service. Obviously, I was mistaken. Nonetheless, thanks to my name not being on the appointment list, I was allowed in to the processing centre to submit my documentation for the visa.

However, I left feeling that the N30,000 fee for coming late is rather exorbitant. I do not have anything against a penalty for coming late, but I do not think it should be that high or it would be regarded as extortion. Also, if there has to be a fee for coming late, then it should be clearly stated in bold on the website of visa processing centre. When other embassies give you an appointment time, it is usually a guide and not necessarily fixed. So if it is going to be different at the UK visa processing centres, it should be clearly stated on their website to guide applicants.

Well, other than the shock of the demand of N30,000 late coming fee, I generally found other services at the Premium lounge satisfactory, except for the fact that it is a self-service premium lounge.



March 13, 2018 | 12:25 pm
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