U.S ambassador summoned over high rate of visa denials

The high rate of visa denials by various U.S embassies across the globe, especially in West Africa which has been described as an “immigration risk” region, has compelled the Nigerian National Assembly to summon the United States Ambassador to Nigeria.

The invitation of Ambassador Mr Stuart Symington comes after an activist petitioned the House over the high rate of visa refusals.

Just as the case is in Ghana, many Nigerian students seeking to study in the US were denied visas despite spending a lot of money on application fees, visa fees and others. The embassy has maintained that fees once paid are not refundable despite not giving any reason for visa denials.

While some of the students claimed that they were denied visas because they were not married, others said they were denied because only one of their parents was their sponsor.

A parent claimed that his daughter’s interview was cut short because she asked the interviewer to speak up.

The embassy issues preprinted papers to those it rejected without giving a specific reason for the decision.

Checks by reveal that the situation goes beyond just visa denial in Ghana. Most embassies in Ghana do not have waiting areas for visitors while same embassies expect visa applicants to report ahead of time.

Last year, Okudzeto Ablakwa began a campaign which yeilded no result. The Member of Parliament addressed parliament on “the shabby and dehumanizing treatment many Ghanaian visa applicants are subjected to virtually on a daily basis”. Ablakwa also said that many Ghanaian visa applicants consider to be “extortionist conduct” on the part of some of these embassies.

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Ablakwa is quoted below:

“Mr Speaker, It is indeed sad to observe that most of these embassies in question have made no provision whatsoever for a decent and safe waiting area where visa applicants may be hosted as they wait their turn during visa interview appointments. I have personally made the effort to visit a number of embassies during their interview appointment periods and what I have observed leaves me rather outraged. You find fellow Ghanaians standing in open places; some left to wait at street shoulders and roundabouts with no one caring about the associated risk posed by motorists, others are left at the mercy of the vagaries of the weather – to these embassies, they couldn’t be bothered if the sun is scorching, if its raining or even if there is a category five hurricane – they simply don’t seem to care.”

“Mr Speaker, the records of this house will show that I have had cause to raise this matter some four years ago during the vetting of the former Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Hanna Serwaa Tetteh. It’s really a pity that this unfortunate and unacceptable treatment meted out to Ghanaians has continued unabated all these years.

Mr. Speaker, to the extent that thousands and thousands of Ghanaians continue to pay non-refundable sums for the visa services they seek – which are no small amounts by the way, one wonders why a fraction of the revenue generated by these embassies cannot be used to make basic provision of a waiting area for their visa clients”.

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