The United States (US) government has imposed visa restrictions on Ghana government officials such as Ministers of State and Members of Parliament, over a long-standing issue between the two countries. The decision by the US government is as a result of the failure of the Ghana government to accept into the country Ghanaian nationals removed from the US for various immigration offences, chief among them, for overstaying their visas.
The US government therefore says from February 4, 2019, its Embassy in Accra will discontinue issuing all non-immigrant visas (NIV) to domestic employees (A3 and G5) of Ghanaian diplomats posted in the United States.
“It is important to note that A3 and G5 visa applications will be processed, but no visas in these categories will be issued while these restrictions remain in effect,” it said.
In a statement copied to ghanabusinessnews.com, it noted that additionally, consular officers will limit the validity period and number of entries on new tourist and business visas (B1, B2, and B1/B2) for all Ghanaian executive and legislative branch employees, their spouses, and their children under 21 to one-month, single-entry visas. Visas issued prior to the effective date of these visa restrictions will not be affected, it said.
It pointed out however that, the lack of adjudication does not mean a visa denial. The application will remain pending until the visa restrictions are lifted, at which point, the visa application will continue to be processed for issuance, it said.
This is the third time the US government is using Section 243(d) of the immigration code to force other governments to act in the matter of receiving their citizens who have been removed from the US. The first time it was used, was in 2001 against Guyana and the second time, it was against The Gambia in 2016. US officials have been quoted saying when it was used against Guyana, it produced full cooperation in less than two months.
In 2016, the US authorities warned that Ghana could face the same sanctions if the country fails to comply.
Citing Ghana as a signatory to the UN Convention on International Civil Aviation, the statement said the country is obligated to issue the necessary travel documents to its citizens under deportation orders from another country.
“Under Section 243(d) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, when a country is determined to be denying or unreasonably delaying accepting the return of its nationals, the US government institutes visa restrictions until the situation is resolved,” the statement said.
All other consular services, it said, will continue as normal and the restrictions will not affect other consular services, including adjudication of applications from individuals not covered by the imposition of these restrictions (for example, student visas), and indicated that the US government will continue to dialogue with the Ghana government to resolve the issue.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi
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