Ghana’s three living former presidents would not have to queue up with fellow citizens seeking American visas for non-official purposes.
This is according to Press Attaché’ at the US Embassy in Ghana, Sarah Stealy.
The clarification follows indications that the US government had withdrawn protocol visa allocation to high-level state officials, after the US Ambassador, Robert Jackson met Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee last week.
But, speaking to the media, Sarah Stealy explained that diplomatic courtesies would still be extended to Ghana’s former presidents who embark on personal visits.
“Under US law, anybody seeking a non-immigrant visa to travel to the United States needs to appear in person for an interview with the Consular Officer.
That has been the law. Under the law there are also a few exceptions under which the interview may be raised, and that includes when diplomats and officials are travelling on official business to the United States but under the law if they are applying for a new visa for personal travel then they may appear in person for the interview.
If there are special circumstances such as a former President coming in and the Ambassador mentioned this, that we have procedures to ensure that we extend courtesies to them. They don’t have to queue up.”
Explaining his outfit’s position to members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament after an earlier letter informing Parliament about the decision on Thursday, June 22, 2017, Mr. Robert Jackson said: “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.”
This directive follows a similar position taken by the UK High Commission on the issuance of visas for personal visits after some four Members of Parliament were alleged to have engaged in visa fraud.
The United States Embassy in Ghana has since released a statement explaining that the notification on visa allocations to government officials, including MPs and former Presidents visiting the US unofficially is in accordance with already existing US law.