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09.06.2005 General News

Massive demo to rock US Embassy

By Chronicle

Some disappointed American visa applicants in the Brong Ahafo Region are mobilizing themselves to meet their counterparts in the Ashanti Region to organize what they term a massive demonstration against the American Embassy in Accra, Ghana over the issue of visa applications.

The purpose of the demonstration, according the Brong Ahafo spokesman for the group, Kofi Asomah Kennedy was to draw the attention of the government of Ghana on the conduct of the Embassy on how they deal with visa applicants.

Mr. Kennedy, alerting The Chronicle on their intended demonstration, said Ghanaians, particularly visa applicants of the USA Embassy in Ghana are being exploited to unimaginable levels and this, he said, needed to be tackled by the government.

Mr. Kennedy noted that officers of the consular section of the Embassy are showing gross disrespect to Ghanaians and according to him, this issue needs to be addressed to ensure sanity in the process and issuance of visas at the Embassy.

According to Mr. Kennedy, after the Embassy had taken non-refundable visa fee of $100, they turn the applicants away, after only asking them whether they had ever applied for a visa there or not.

He stated that instead of them taking pains to go through the required documents, these officers have no time to do so.

Mr. Kennedy indicates that it may happen that one may appear before the consulate for the first time without the relevant documents, but at a second appearance, such documents may be provided, therefore, it would be prudent for the Embassy to have time to inspect documents requested for before making a decision.

The spokesman emphasized that it is bad for the Embassy to charge so much but have no time to interview and access applicants' documents.

He therefore appealed to the foreign affairs ministry to take the matter up and ensure that all applicants who duly pay for their visa fees are attended to during interview time.

He was of the view that the question of whether one had ever applied for a visa should not be used as a criteria for turning an applicant down.

When The Chronicle contacted the Public Affairs Officer of the Embassy, Susan Parker Barnes, she said every applicant who appeared before the Embassy was interviewed, but the Embassy had realized that most of the documents submitted by the applicants were forged.

According to her, documentation fraud is very high in Ghana and this had compelled them to turn some visa applicants down.

To know how many applicants were normally received in a day, Susan disclosed that averagely, the Embassy takes between $100 and $300, meaning it is making between $10,000 and $30,000 per day, to process visa applications.

She advised Ghanaians to educate themselves by listening to the Public Affairs section of the Embassy on radio,which they use for their educational purposes.

Another avenue which prospective applicants can exploit to educate themselves is on the website of the Embassy.

Currently, the US Embassy is charging a non-refundable $100 as application fee whether the visa is eventually issued or not.