U.S. places non-immigrant visa restrictions on Ghana

The United States Embassy in Accra, will from Monday discontinue issuing all non-immigrant visas (NIV) to domestic employees, A3 and G5, of Ghanaian diplomats posted in the United States.

This follows what the U.S. government says is due to the refusal or unreasonably delay by the government of Ghana to accept it nationals ordered removed from their country.

In a statement announcing this decision by the U.S. Homeland Security it said the Secretary of State Pompeo has ordered consular officers in Ghana to implement visa restrictions on certain categories of visa applicants.

“Without an appropriate response from Ghana, the scope of these sanctions may be expanded to a wider population.”

The sanctions will remain in place until the Secretary of Homeland Security notifies Secretary Pompeo that cooperation on removals has improved to an acceptable level.

The Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, said “Ghana has failed to live up to its obligations under international law to accept the return of its nationals ordered removed from the United States.”

The United States routinely cooperates with foreign governments in documenting and accepting U.S. citizens when asked, as appropriate, as do the majority of countries in the world, but Ghana has failed to do so in this case, the statement further stated.

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“We hope the Ghanaian government will work with us to reconcile these deficiencies quickly.”

However, the U.S. Embassy in Accra has explained 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.”

In addition, 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.

But it was clarified visas issued prior to the effective date of these visa restrictions will not be affected.

According to the Embassy in Accra, 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.

It revealed that since July 2016, the U.S. Government has engaged with the Government of Ghana in both Washington, DC and Accra on this matter.

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