- The US Ambassador at a meeting with parliament said former presidents and parliamentarians would be required to make a personal appearance at the embassy to request visas
- Some former top government officials have described as disrespectful, the US government’s decision to withdraw protocol visa services
The United States (US) ambassador to Ghana, Robert Jackson has disclosed that ex-presidents and Members of Parliament (MPs) will now have to go through the normal procedures just like any ordinary Ghanaian when applying for a US visa.
According to him, unless on an official visit, MPs and ex-presidents will now receive no special treatments when applying for a US visa, insisting they must queue just like any ordinary citizen does.
Mr Jackson was speaking to Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee after being summoned to explain certain reported ill treatments meted out to Ghanaian visa applicants at the Embassy.
This came after a section of the public complained bitterly about the way and manner some immigrants were poorly treated before being deported back to Ghana.
However, the US ambassador insists the embassy is doing its best to lessen the stress of visa applicants.
He explained that "we make every effort to make applicants as comfortable as possible and process them [the visas] as quickly as possible. There is a coverage shelter under which they sit while they are waiting to go into the actual building.”
He added that measures were being put in place to reduce the waiting hours of visa applicants, stressing that official applications are processed within 48 hours.
“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 noted.
Another issue that was raised was the refund of part of visa fees to applicants whose applications are rejected.
However, responding to the subject, Mr Jackson said there was very less the embassy could do about that, explaining that the same visa fees are charged in different countries.
This, he said, is because the fees charged are only for the processing of the visas and not for the visa itself.
He also defended the number of applications granted each year, saying over 15,000 visas were given out in the year under review.
"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 explained.
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