EX-PRESIDENTS, MPs TO QUEUE FOR VISA APPLICATION; U.S AMBASSADOR REVEALS

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EX-PRESIDENTS, MPs TO QUEUE FOR VISA APPLICATION; U.S AMBASSADOR REVEALS.

From now onwards former Presidents and Members of Parliament (MP) are expected to join the queue like ordinary Ghanaians when applying for US visas for their private visits.

The United States Ambassador to Ghana, Robert Jackson, said apart from the official travel for ex-Presidents and MPs, which goes through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in all other applications the applicants must personally present them.

The Ambassador said the official applications are processed within 48 hours but “travelling on business or tourism which is not related to government business, you need to make a personal appearance, even former Presidents have to come themselves,” he told Parliaments Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Thursday.

The Committee had summoned Mr Jackson to respond to some queries surrounding the recent deportation of some Ghanaians under inhumane circumstances as well as the poor reception given to visa applicants at the Embassy in Accra.

A member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Dr Clement Apaak, said it is high time the Embassy gives deserving shelter to applicants considering that they pay a lot for the services to be left to the mercy of the weather.

To this, the Ambassador said “we make every effort to make applicants as comfortable as possible and process them as quickly as possible. There is a coverage shelter under which they sit while they are waiting to go into the actual building.”

He said there is an air-conditioned room with restrooms where applicants wait for their turns to be called in adding the Embassy has worked to minimise the waiting time.

“Last year we issued over 16000 visas to Ghanaians and we make every efforts to process visas for applicants within 48 hours of application. We have also had in place an agent where applicants will go and pick their passports so they do wait at the embassy twice,” he said.

Mr Jackson said the Embassy is not trying to inflict any suffering on applicants but the numbers it receives have limited the flexibility it has for applicants.

He encouraged applicants to stick to appointment time as the Embassy is forced to take those with appointments as service is not based on first come first serve basis.

On the issue of refund of part of visa fees applicants pay, the Ambassador said the amount charged is for the application to be processed and not for the visa itself.

He said because it is a service fee there is nothing the Embassy can do about it.

“We charge the same fee for visa irrespective of the country we are in. I beg to differ than we offer a handful of visas because of the fact that we issued over 15000 visas in 2015/16 which is far more than a handful,” Mr Jackson said in defence of reducing the fee charged.

He questioned why the Ghanaian Embassy in Washington issues a single entry visa to Americans whereas the American Embassy issues five-year visas to Ghanaians so they do not have to apply and pay for visa fee again.

BY:  ABUBAKAR IBRAHIM / MYJOYONLINE.

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