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US restrictions: MPs, Ministers, others to get 30 days visas

Beginning from Monday (February 4), Ghanaian Parliamentarians, members of the Executive and their families applying for visas to travel on holiday or for business in the United States will now get just a month’s single entry visa to the North American country.

Unlike the six months and beyond multiple-entry (B1, B2, and B1/B2) visas the US Embassy in Ghana issues to members of the legislature, the Embassy says the officials will now be restricted to only 30-days single entry visa.

A statement issued by the embassy in compliance with United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) directives said “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, however, said all other consular operations at the U.S. Embassy in Accra will continue as normal.

“These visa restrictions will not affect other consular services provided, including adjudication of applications from individuals not covered by the imposition of these restrictions (for example, student visas)” the statement said.

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Non-immigrant visas

That is not all. The American Embassy also indicated that it will also stop issuing all non-immigrant visas (NIV) to domestic employees of Ghanaian diplomats posted in the United States who receive A3 and G5 visas.

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“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. 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.

Under United States law, a domestic helper may be eligible for a business visitor (B1) or diplomatic (A3 or G5) nonimmigrant visa (NIV) to accompany non-United States employers, temporarily assigned to the United States.

The law also requires that domestic workers be properly registered with the Office of Foreign Mission Management Information System (TOMIS) of the Department of State before applying for an A-3 or G-5 visa.

Background

The United States on Thursday imposed visa restrictions on Ghana, accusing the country of not cooperating in accepting its citizens ordered removed from the United States.

The DHS in a statement warned that without an appropriate response from Ghana, “the scope of these sanctions may be expanded to a wider population”.

The Embassy’s statement said since July 2016, the United States government had engaged with the Government of Ghana in both Washington, DC and Accra on the matter.

“The United States values its vibrant partnership with Ghana, and remains committed to working together with the Government of Ghana to resolve the situation,” it said.

The United States Embassy had in July last year accused Ghana of reneging on its responsibility to interview deportees on a regular basis and issue the necessary travel documents.

“If Ghana fails to comply with international obligations regarding the issuance of travel documents, the United States may be forced to begin implementing visa restrictions on Ghana, in accordance with U.S. law,” it warned last year.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Ministry at the time stated that the government had communicated the concerns to the Ghana Embassy in the US.

It, however, implored the US Government to “do due diligence” and establish the nationalities of the deportees before they are issued with travel documents.

“In the spirit of cooperation, therefore, the Ghana Missions have the obligation to ensure that the right processes are followed to verify the identities of subjects for deportation, in order to avert challenges with the Ghana Immigration Service upon the arrival of the latter,” it said.

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