The United States of America (USA) Embassy here in Accra has not introduced a new policy for travelers seeking a nonimmigrant visa for travel to the States, official sources say.
The U.S. clarification on its visa policy comes at the back of news in the Ghanaian media indicating the withdrawal of protocol visas to top government officials on non-official visits after the U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, Robert Jackson’s meeting with the Foreign Affairs Committee of Ghana’s parliament, Thursday.
A statement released here Friday by Sara Veldhuizen Stealy, a Press Attaché at the US Embassy observed the U. S. has not introduced any new policy on nonimmigrant visas and travelers seeking a nonimmigrant visa from the Embassy were required under United States law to appear in person for an interview with a consular officer.
“Under U.S. law, travelers seeking a nonimmigrant visa for travel to the United States must generally appear in person for an interview with a consular officer. U.S. law also designates limited exceptions under which the visa interview may be waived, such as for diplomats and officials traveling on official government business.
However, under U.S. law, when a diplomat or official applies for a new visa for personal travel, that applicant must appear in person for an interview.
This is not a new policy. In such limited and special circumstances as having a former president come in, we have procedures established to ensure the appropriate courtesies are extended. When a diplomat or official applies for a visa for personal travel, it is neither necessary nor appropriate for the applicant to be accompanied to the interview by protocol assistants,” the U.S. Press Attaché said.
She further indicated the Embassy’s interaction was to clarify its policy and expressed their commitment to working with the government here to facilitate official travels.
Stealy said, “As a general policy, only visa applicants are allowed in the waiting room. Our communication to the Government of Ghana was meant to clarify this policy. We will continue to work with the government to facilitate legitimate personal and official travel.”
The U.S. Ambassador to Ghana told the Foreign Affairs Committee of Ghana’s Parliament Thursday June 22, “As for the protocol, normally if you are applying for official travel there is no personal appearance required so there is no reason for your parliamentary protocol officer to come to the Embassy whatever.
The normal channel will be for him to pass the visas and passport to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, and their protocol people will be permitted to come to the Embassy, and we will do everything we can to process those visas within 48 hours of receipt.
If you are travelling for tourism or business that is not related to government business, you will be required to make a personal appearance even with former Presidents. There are no exceptions.” Enditem.
Source: Francis Tandoh, NewsGhana.com.gh