Yesterday the US Department of Homeland Security announced a visa restriction on Ghana government executive and legislative employees and their families as a punitive measure for the failure of the Ghana government to provide passports to Ghanaian citizens on deportation orders in the US, to enable them to be removed and brought to Ghana.
Speaking to journalists at a press briefing today February 1, 2019 at the US Embassy in Accra, newly appointed Ambassador, Stephanie S. Sullivan told journalists that the restrictions affect holders of Ghanaian diplomatic passports as well.
The US government 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, earlier today, 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.
The Ambassador however indicated that officials travelling to the US on official visits and on US government exchange programmes will not be affected. Other citizens, she explained, are not affected.
On the question of the proof of the citizenship of the individuals on deportation orders as to whether they are indeed Ghanaians, the Ambassador said it is the duty of the Ghana government to prove the citizenship of the individuals and not that of the US government, which works to establish the citizenship of people claiming to be Americans.
According to the Ambassador, without providing the individuals with Ghanaian passports, the US government is unable to deport them using commercial flights, it has to use charter flights. She therefore urged the Ghana government to fulfill the conditions of the international convention it signed and provide its citizens with passports so they can be deported to Ghana.
Sullivan reiterated that she will build on the achievements of her predecessors and strengthen US, Ghana relations. She said she will continue to pursue the US government’s programme of supporting Ghana’s security, considering the fact of Ghana’s important role in maintaining peace in the region, that is faced with terrorism. The US government she said, will continue to support women entrepreneurs, the private sector and continue with the Millennium Challenge Compact.
She also stated that Ghana is important to the US as it continues to use Ghana as a regional platform to run its programmes in the region including security, the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI), and USAID.
The Ghanaian authorities have not commented yet on the decision.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi
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