In July 2018, football fans who traveled to Russia for the World Cup were gifted by Vladimir Putin the opportunity to return to the country without visa until the end of the year. Putin came out with “Fan IDs” which allowed thousands of Africans to come to Russia not only to watch football but attempt to find work. 

Last month, Interior Ministry official Andrei Krayushkin reported that there were 650,000 people who received “Fan ID” permit cards this past summer for the World Cup. 

According to Krayushkin, by the end of 2018, there were 12,000 over-staying guests in Russia but the number has been reduced to 5,500 due to the diligent efforts of security services:

“In the main, they were all law-abiding and left the country in their own time. We are undertaking operations to deport them and I hope that they will all be deported by March 30.”

The head of Moscow center for immigrants said that the arrivals from Africa, significantly increased after the World Cup which led to unsustainable circumstances both for the government and migrants.

Daniel who has worked with African migrants for the past 10 years reported that most of them have no plans of going back to the motherland:

“When they get here, they’re stuck. They don’t want to go back, they can’t go forward. Most don’t speak Russian, and without Russian, the chances are very small of finding a job.”

Solomon is a Nigerian migrant with an engineering degree. He attended the World Cup to support his country’s team but apparently already had plans to stay on after the tournament. 

Initially, the 31-year-old found work as a gardener but is currently jobless.

“In Nigeria, there is no job, no good politics, no good life. I just want to stay here for a little time, so that I am able to work, get some money and go to another place.”

He along with many migrants fear deportation and are very worried about the Interior Ministry’s end of March deadline. Despite this, he is not planning on going back to Nigeria on his own accord.

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