Sunday, November 17, 2019
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US government has decided not to escalate visa restrictions on Ghanaians


In an interview with Daily Graphic, Ms Sullivan did not indicate when the limited restrictions would be lifted. She was however hopeful that by the end of the year there might be a complete resolution of the matter.

She indicated that this decision is due to fruitful discussions between the two governments in an attempt to find an amicable solution to the deportation of some 7,000 Ghanaians residing illegally in the United States (US).

This is coming after the US imposed visa restrictions on Ghana for refusing to accept the return of 7,000 Ghanaians that the US wanted to deport.

The US Embassy in Accra restricted visa applications of Ghanaian domestic staff of diplomats posted to the US and other public servants who draw their salaries from the state.

It threatened that the sanctions would be expanded to include other categories of people if the issue was not resolved.

The US accuses the 7,000 would-be deportees of immigration offences, including abusing the terms of their visas. 

“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 US Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, said in a statement.

Ghana responded by questioning the nationality of the deportees and explained that the process was delayed so that officials could vet the deportees and confirm their nationalities. 

But last September Ghana’s Ambassador to the US, Dr Baffour Adjei-Bawuah, said an agreement had been reached to return the deportees.

After the sanctions, the governments of the two countries had held a series of meetings which is expected to help solve the challenge.

Explaining further Ms Sullivan said: “Those affected are people living in the US illegally, having been identified by immigration and gone through the courts and exhausted all the processes thereof.” 

She added that the embassy had a job to do in verifying the citizenship of those who claimed to be American. 

Ms Sullivan said per the international convention on civil aviation, of which Ghana was a signatory, there was a standard issuance time of 30 days, so when those documents were not issued in 30 days or drag on beyond that, it created a lot of financial and other headaches for the US side. 

“So we are working very closely with Accra and Washington to develop a reputable and sustainable process for issuing these timely travel documents,” she said.

“We have a clear way forward; it’s a matter of implementing that way forward by issuing these travel documents and after that, we will be in a position to review the consequences, not just in Accra but with the restrictions that may apply to Ghanaian visa applicants,” the US Ambassador added.