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04.09.2003 General News

US visa lottery winners up in arms

By Chronicle
US visa lottery winners up in arms
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.... with American Embassy in Accra There is rising anger among Ghanaian applicants of the US Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery who won the DV-2003 diversity immigrant programme, following the disqualification of their applications by the American Embassy in Accra.

The grumbling applicants have accused the embassy of “naked and day light robbery.”

They told The Chronicle that the embassy failed to investigate marital certificates to ascertain their authenticity before denying couples the visa.

Meanwhile, The Chronicle has learnt that, as at last week, over 80 applicants had been denied visas on the basis of biographic discrepancies. Some of the discrepancies the embassy used to disqualify the applicants were marriage certificates, interchanging of names, and failure to sign the forms by the applicants among others discrepancies. The applicants said however that the embassy failed to verify even the authenticity of marital documents, let alone assess legal documents in relation to the marriage.

“The people have turned blind eyes to every legal document including for instance affidavits sworn in court for both change of name and marriage. They only look at the documents at the counter and use their discretion to deny us.

They also create inconveniences by postponing dates of interviews which they eventually use to disqualify us,” an aggrieved applicant told The Chronicle.

They appealed to the government to cause an investigation into the matter.

According to them the embassy deliberately gave them 15 minutes to answer 16 questions to enable them to fail the applicants.

They said some of the reasons given as biographical discrepancies were deliberate and rejected the claim by the embassy that applicants have been assisted in filling the forms. “The bulletin of the Consular did not rule out that a person who was helped to complete the forms should be denied and that is why we are saying that the denials are unjustified,” another applicant contended.

Chronicle investigations have also revealed that attempts by some legal practitioners who wanted to dialogue with the Consulars on behalf of the applicants proved futile.

One of the petitions to Mrs. Margaret Diop one of the Consulars and copied to Mr. Steve Groh, Chief Consular Officer and Mr. Hailu Kebede, International Chief reads, “We are constrained to bring to your kind attention the cases listed below, which fall into category of D.V. refusal under section 212 a (5) (A) of the Immigration and National Act on the basis of alleged signature disparities.”

The petition signed by Mr. Sarfo Abebrese, of Unilegal Consult, an Accra legal firm, continued: “In petitioning your high office for review of these cases, we take cognizance of the severe time and human constraints under which your office operates vis-a-vis, the interest of our clients and our overriding concern for justice and fairness to all concerned.

“Consequently we have selected these cases out of some 60 cases in the same category reported to our offices, after very careful and thorough screening, and we have no hesitation in putting in our credibility on the line by assuring your high office that these ones actually signed their registration papers personally and that a more dispassionate review of their signatures would prove credible.”

The Chronicle was unable to reach the embassy for its comments.

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