The Ghana Immigration Service is mandated to regulate and monitor the entry, residence, employment and exit of all foreigners. Movement of Ghanaians in and out of the country is equally monitored.
Operating as usual
REPATRIATION OF THREE SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONALS
The Ghana Immigration Service amongst other responsibilities is the institution with the mandate of regulating and monitoring the entry and exit of foreign nationals as well as ensuring the removal of foreign nationals in breach of Ghana’s immigration laws.
It has come to our notice that three (3) South African nationals, namely, Major (Rtd) Ahmed Shaik HAZIS a.k.a Chris aged 55yrs , W. O (Rtd) Denver Dwayne NAIDU aged 39yrs and Cpt. (Rtd) Mlungiseleli JOKANI aged 45yrs arrived variously in the country on the 5th and 14th of March respectively.
The suspects were reportedly arrested by the BNI for engaging in acts suspected to be inimical to national security. The GIS on 23/03/16 requested for their release to the Service for the determination of their immigration status in the country. The suspects indicated in their written statements that they were invited by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to train its security personnel. The GIS proceeded to review their Visa Application process to confirm the veracity of their claims and reconcile their current status and activities. In the process to ascertain these facts the forms they submitted to our Mission in Pretoria, South Africa and the disembarkation cards filled by them upon their arrival at KIA were vetted.
The three (3) SA nationals were issued B1 (Business) visas which prohibits any form of employment. Their individual hosts had indicated in their respective invitation letters that subjects were to “travel to Accra for a series of business meetings” with them.
MlungiselelI Jokani and Denver Dwayne Naidu who are both employees of GLAEXEC PROTECTION SERVICES LTD in South Africa were invited by Dr Daniel Mckorley of McDan Shipping Company Ltd by a letter dated 2/03/16. Hazis Ahmed Shaik an employee of iMvula Quality Protection (Africa) (Pty) Ltd on the other hand was invited by Nana Attobrah Quaicoe of the Danquah Institute by a letter dated 22/12/15.
Hazis Shaik was first to arrive in Ghana. He came on board a South Africa Airlines plane, [Flt no. SA 52] at around 9:40pm on the 5/03/16 on a Republic of South Africa passport number M00052092. He indicated on his disembarkation Card that Movenpick Hotel –Accra was his contact Address in Ghana.
The two other individuals invited by McDan Shipping Ltd arrived in Ghana around 10:15pm on 14/03/16 on South African Airlines, [Flt No. SA 209] and were both travelling on Republic of South Africa passport numbers M00096231 and A05213410 respectively. They both indicated on their disembarkation cards that Alisa Hotel-Accra was their contact Address in Ghana.
In their own hand written statements, taken under caution at the BNI and in the presence of their Lawyer, the three (3) individuals indicated that they were engaged by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to come to the country and conduct training for fifteen (15) bodyguards from the party in VIP security drills. Hazis who was identified by the other two as their leader, indicated in his statement that he was “engaged to provide VIP protection training to the protection security officers of the Leader of the Opposition party in Ghana, the NPP. This was my reason for being in Ghana”. This statement does not conform with the purpose of their invitation [“travel to Accra for a series of business meetings”] which they indicated on their application for visa to the Ghana Mission in Pretoria, South Africa.
Based on the aforementioned findings the GIS draws the following conclusions;
1. The two organizations which extended the invitation to the three South Africans are not known to be registered security companies.
2. The series of meetings indicated in the invitation letters, on the strength of which the visas were issued, were to be held in Accra with the two organizations.
3. On the face of the documentation examined, it was clear that the three individuals were not sure of who actually invited them. The NPP as a legal entity did not invite the three South Africans to Ghana and there is no documentation to contradict this fact. The evidence available points to McDan Shipping Ltd and the Danquah Institute as the invitees. As earlier indicated these institutions are not security organisations.
4. They were training 15 Ghanaians out of Accra in security drills, which contradict the express purpose for their coming to Ghana, which was to attend meetings.
Additionally, it is the view of the GIS that the training exercise conducted by the three at the El Capitano Hotel in the Central Region to a group that did not invite them, is clearly a confirmation of the attempt to conceal the motive for their visit and was therefore a breach of Section 52(1) (e) and (i) of the Immigration Act 2000 (Act 573). Their act is also a breach of the conditions precedent for the issuance of visas as contained in the instructions on Form B (Reg.3 (4) of the Immigration Regulation 2001 (LI 1691).
In view of the foregoing, the Director of Immigration acting in accordance with Section 20 of the Immigration Act 2000 (Act 573) has revoked the visas issued to the three South Africans. The Director has further ordered their repatriation to South Africa in line with Section 21 of the Immigration Act 2000 (Act 573).
SGND: DIRECTOR OF IMMIGRATION
DIRECTIVE FROM THE PRESIDENT
The president H.E John Mahama have directed all institutions of the state to tackle the galamsey miners with all needed authority and deport the foreigners as well as prosecute their Ghanaians partners and revoke their licences
CHINA TIGHTENS ENTRY REQUIREMENTS FOR VISA
While Chinese nationals are pouring into Ghana in droves daily and are now spread across the entire country, the opposite is the case for Ghanaians who want to visit China. The Chinese Government has officially tightened entry of Ghanaians and Africans into their country through new restrictive measures.
For nearly two years now it has become extremely difficult if not impossible for Ghanaians especially new applicants to acquire visas into China. Where as in the past a trader could, with a return ticket and good statement of accounts get a visa to China, the Chinese government has now introduced new measures ostensibly to curtail the flow of traders into their country.
These measures include an invitation letter, a healthy Bank Statement, a Medical Report, a Police Report and any other document that the Chinese embassy official may request of the applicant.
The policy is simple ‘reduce the flow of Ghanaian traders into china and force them to buy from Chinese immigrant traders here in Ghana instead of importing directly from the factories in Ghaugoung - the industrial hub of China.
This situation has given rise to a lot of ‘connection men’ who are alleged to be conniving with some embassy officials to acquire Chinese visas through the backdoor at a whopping GHc 2,000.
“Now it is almost impossible to apply directly to the Chinese Embassy and get a visa unless you pass through an agent” a Ghanaian businesswoman told the SCANDAL. The lady who will not give us her name for fear of been blacklisted said it costs GHs 800.00 now for even frequent travelers to China to get a new visa into China.
The lady however does not begrudge the Chinese, she said “it is the duty of every government to support and protect their citizens and their businesses. The Americans do it, the British do it and now the Chinese are doing it. If our governments don’t care then we don’t have to blame the other countries.”
Efforts to get some clarification from the Chinese Embassy on this matter did not yield any results as no official was prepared to comment.
edition.myjoyonline.com ECOWAS free movement protocols pose ‘serious’ threats to Ghana’s security - experts
GHANA: Dual Nationality – Travelling & Application Refunds
On 22 May 2012 the Supreme Court of Ghana ruled that Ghanaians who are eligible for Dual Citizenship under the provisions of the Citizenship Act 2002 (Act 591) are no longer required to apply for Dual Citizenship and be issued with Dual Citizenship Certificate or Card. A citizen of Ghana who also has citizenship of another country becomes a dual citizen by operation of the law. This means that Dual Citizens do not have to and must not apply for dual citizenship and pay a fee to obtain a dual citizenship certificate. When travelling to Ghana, dual nationals should be sure to have their Ghana passport, for entry purposes, and their other passport, for exit out of Ghana and entry into the other country. Travelers should be ready to provide both passports. Persons who have already paid dual citizenship application fees, particularly since the court ruling, should ask for refunds in writing.
The relevant sections of the judgment of the Supreme Court (Justice Date-Bah) stated as follows: “A Declaration that the administrative requirement of the Republic of Ghana for a dual citizen to obtain dual citizenship card is discriminatory, unreasonable, burdensome, serves no legitimate constitutional purpose and thereby null, void and of no effect as it contravenes the letter and spirit of Article 17 of the 1992 Constitution” The Court held that “any administrative procedures or practices or subsidiary legislation which seek to impose fetters or conditions on the exercise by dual nationals of their rights as citizens are unconstitutional.”
Parliament has no option but to go back to the drawing board, and our presidential candidates will be seeking our votes.
UK immigration staff to test foreign students' English
Students who have applied for visas to study in the UK and who have already passed approved language tests could be barred from taking up their places at colleges or universities if immigration officers judge that their English is not good enough.
New powers granted to staff at visa offices around the world, which came into effect on 30 July, are intended to add a new line of defence against bogus applicants, but students could be failed by staff who are not trained language assessors.
Announcing the rule change last month, UK immigration minister Damian Green said: "With more interviews and greater powers to refuse bogus students we will w**d out abuse and protect the UK from those looking to play the system."
The UK Border Agency (UKBA) said it expects to interview 14,000 students applying for Tier 4 student visas over the next 12 months: more than 5% of the 250,000 expected applicants.
The interviews will be targeted at students from countries where risks of abuse are higher and who are applying to institutions that are not on the UKBA's "highly trusted sponsor" list.
The agency says that its officers will ask applicants questions about their "immigration and education history, study and post-study plans, and financial circumstances".
Interviewees must be able to "demonstrate without the assistance of an interpreter" that their English meets the level of the test certificate they have submitted. Failure to do so, and failure to attend interviews, will result in their application being rejected.
But the UKBA was not able to give details about how the interviews will be conducted and what training officers will receive to assess ability.
Mike Milanovic, chief executive of Cambridge Esol, which produces a number of the tests of English approved by the UKBA, says immigration staff will need specialist skills. "Speaking is possibly the most challenging skill to assess. Even when it is carried out by very experienced language teachers, you still need to provide them with specialist training and very detailed instructions.
"You also need an extensive quality management system to back this up. Otherwise, it's almost impossible to deliver a fair, reliable assessment," said Milanovic.
The UKBA recommends that staff seek advice from local British Council offices, but the council could not say whether it has been asked to provide language assessment training.
Demonstrating language ability has been a key part of the Tier 4 visa process since 2009. In 2010 the UKBA set higher minimum levels and Green stressed the importance of approved tests as evidence.
"Secure English language testing will ensure that we have independent evidence that all education institutions are ensuring their students are capable of following a course delivered in English," Green said in 2010.
The introduction of student interviews could call into question the UKBA's confidence in those tests.
Dr Rahul Choudaha, director of research at World Education Services, a New York-based higher-education monitoring service, warns that assessing language will not stop abuses.
"Interviews may deter fraudulent applicants to some extent; however, interviews are not only resource intensive but also highly subjective.
"A better approach would be to investigate the sources of frauds. For example, many education agents who are appointed by universities have an incentive to make an applicant look 'admissible' by hook or crook. More attention could have been paid to curb risks of fraud at the source," Choudaha said.
Visa Decisions From The British High Commission (Bhc): Is This A Case Of Needless Exploitation?
We ordinarily would have resisted the urge to come out with this publication. Yet considering the precarious nature of decisions from the British High Commission (BHC), we are left with no option but to pour our scorn on this deprecating state of affairs.
In expressing our dissatisfaction however, we are equally mindful of a number of caveats. One, we do concede that an Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) is under a duty to protect the integrity of the UK Immigration Rules. His task therefore is to limit as far as possible the threat of intending immigrants seeking to gain entry into the UK. Two, we do note also that the law vests an ECO with discretion. Thus, the provision of all requisite documents by an applicant should not necessarily guarantee that a visa will be issued. The decision on whether or not an applicant has satisfied a relevant immigration rule lies exclusively with an ECO.
Yet having reviewed a number of visa decisions from the BHC we are led to the conclusion that these decisions are generally tenuous, incredibly inconsistent and highly speculative. Wewill seek to demonstrate our allegations by leading arguments in its support.
Our allegations however are limited to only visitor’s visas, specifically, General and Family visitor category. These decisions vary according to reasons advanced as justification. We will therefore consider some common visa refusals under separate headings.
(i) Your institution has not been accredited by the National Accreditation Board (NAB)
Many applicants are refused on grounds that their institution has not been accredited by the National Accreditation Board (NAB). Whiles this may be so for tertiary institutions, it might not necessarily be so for pre-tertiary institutions.
We argue that the mandate of the NAB is only in respect of tertiary institutions. We refer to sections 2(1) of the National Accreditation Board Act, 2007 (Act 744) and 16(1) of the Education Act, 2008 (Act 778). These provisions specify the mandate of the NAB to tertiary institutions. An institution is therefore under no legal obligation to seek accreditation from the NAB if it has duly being certified by the Ghana Education Service (GES) as a pre-tertiary institute. Pre-tertiary institutions operate under the mandate of the National Inspectorate Division of the GES under section 4 of the Education Act 2008, (Act 778) and not the NAB.
Thus, when an ECO alleges that an institution has not been accredited by NAB, the onus lies on the institution to show that it has duly been certified by GES as a pre-tertiary institute. One this is shown, the onus is discharged, and then burden reverts back to the ECO to justify his case. In fact, Entry Clearance Basics, ECB 10.5 states;
“If …the ECO supports a decision to refuse with evidence or allegations which cannot be substantiated or clearly accepted as reliable, a court/adjudicator could decide that the burden of proof fell on the ECO to justify the refusal.
In one particular case, (ACC/720874, 727166) after accepting arguments that the institute was not obliged to seek accreditation from NAB, the ECO nonethelessrefused the application alleging that a call they had made to the GES had indicated that the institute was not registered with the GES. We wrote to the Technical Examinations Unit of the GES to confirm the status of the institute. In response, this body issued out a comprehensive 13-page report which confirmed the accredited status of the institute and set out in detail the processes and procedures that culminated in the award of the accreditation to the institute.
Surprisingly, rather than considering the validity or otherwise of this document, the ECO again refused the application by merely stating thus; “Please note that a telephone call was made to GES on 25/1/12 and GES confirmed that your school was not accredited by GES.”
Whiles not doubting that a call was in fact made to the GES on the said date, we also state the case that an oral verification may always be refuted by documentary proof. The ECO was thus obliged to consider the validity or otherwise of the document before drawing his conclusions. We therefore consider it reprehensible for him to have cleaved stubbornly to oral evidence when available documentary evidence clearly contradicted his claim.
(ii) Your account balance is a number of times your stated income
Many applicants are refused on claims of unproven financial circumstance. The reasoning is normally couched in the notorious reasoning that the applicant’s bank balance is a number of times his stated income. Thus, if an applicant earns a stated monthly income of say 1200 GHS with a closing bank balance of say 13500 GHS, his application is likely to be refused on the grounds that his account balance is over 10 times his stated income. This reasoning is with respect very feeble.
Indeed we argue that save where cash payments which are highly inconsistent with the account history seek to obscure the applicant’s true financial circumstance an application should not fail merely on this ground.
An applicant who earns 1200 GHS and has worked for say 3 years should be able to generate legitimate savings of 13500 GHS. To rely solely on the difference between stated income and account balance as the basis for refusing an application is hugely flawed and overlooks the social context in which these officials operate. In fact Entry Clearance Basics ECB 10.11 encourages ECOs to adopt pragmatic decisions to resolve applications using their expertise and local knowledge. In a society where high savings is considered as a measure of economic status, we are unable to fathom why an applicant must be penalised for being financially prudent.
(iii) You have failed to show the provenance of funds in your account
Applicants are also refused on grounds that the provenance of certain sums into their account did not match with the account history. Whiles noting that an ECO may be justified in refusing an application on this ground we also argue that this might not necessarily be so in all situations.
We contend that an ECO should consider the generality of an account transaction before drawing his conclusions on this point. Where for example, cash payments to the account are inconsistent and seek to impact on the account balance so as to make the financial circumstance of the applicant unclear, then a refusal may be justified under such circumstance. Where however, the payment was a one-off or stands in isolation to the totality of the account transactions, and the financial circumstance of the applicant can be sufficiently ascertained without reference to the said payment, then a refusal may be unjust under the circumstances.
In many situations, evidence may be lacking to support a claim as when a huge sum is deposited into an applicant’s account to be given to a third party, or where a debt owed to the applicant is paid, or where a property is sold by the applicant. In other cases, evidence of a sort may be available at the time of a transaction, but applicants may not be disposed to keep them because they could not have envisaged that such evidence may be relevant to a future visa application.
To refuse applications on this ground without a consideration of these salient factors may defeat the substance of the applicable immigration rule. In fact Entry Clearance Basics, ECB 10.6 is unequivocal on this point. It states;
“The ECO should adopt a flexible approach...with documentation submitted in support of an application. There will be circumstances where necessary documentary evidence is clearly lacking. The ECO/ECM has discretion to vary the documentation required to support an application.”
(iv) We doubt whether you will have exclusive use of funds in a business account since you have chosen not to provide a personal account.
This ground of refusal normally stems from a misapprehension of the legal status of a sole proprietorship. Some ECOs tend to confuse the legal status of a sole proprietorship with that of a limited liability company. Applicants are refused on the basis that they had submitted a business account instead of their personal one. They argue that since the account was in the name of the business they doubted whether funds therein will be under their exclusive control. Other times too the reason is why an applicant had chosen to submit a personal account instead of a business one. The argument is that since the applicant had provided evidence of his business, heshould have provided a business account instead of a personal one.
It is submitted that all these distinctions are erroneous.A sole proprietor is in law the same as his business. A person may choose to operate an account either in his own name or in the name of his business. There is no legal distinction between the two.It will thus be fallacious to demand to see a personal account from an applicant when he had in fact submitted a business account or the vice versa. So will it be a huge flaw to doubt whether funds in a business account will be under the exclusive control of a sole proprietor. Once it is established that the business is a sole proprietorship, it will be erroneous to insist onthese self-induced distinctions.
(v) You have failed to provide sufficient evidence of your financial or personal circumstances
Generally, an applicant needs to prove that funds will genuinely be available to adequately maintain and accommodate him in the UK under paragraph 41(vi) of the UK Immigration Rules. To succeed under this rule, an applicant must provide evidence of his income and its source. He must also demonstrate that the proposed cost/purpose of his trip is sufficiently justifiable against his stated income/savings. The ECO’s task being discretionary, their reasons for refusals are legion.
In many cases the reason is that payments into the account are mostly in cash the provenance of which is unclear. When an applicant submits his business documents, invoices, receipts, tax payments, etc., to demonstrate proof of his business, the reason is that the invoices submitted do not match. With employees, the contention is that certain payments exceeding the stated salary/income were paid into the account for which evidence was not provided. To all these we submit that an applicant may not likely envisage that every conceivable transaction of his may be relevant to a future visa application. To insist unnecessarily on documentary proofs which are mostly difficult to meet may defeat the substance of this rule. (See Entry Clearance Basics, ECB 10.6)
For applicants being sponsored by third parties, (e.g. a student being sponsored by a parent or guardian) the reason is that they had failed to provide sufficient evidence of their maintenance in Ghana. It is submitted that hard evidence may be lacking in cases of maintenance since a sponsor/parent could not be expected to document or provide proof of all monies they might have expended on an applicant. Evidence may thus be implied in the claimed relationship or in the proof of paid school fees or a stipulation to that effect in an accompanying letter, etc.
In any case, this regrettable fidelity to substantiation/documentation is not even endorsed by their own guidelines under Entry Clearance Basics, ECB 10.11 which states as follows;
“The ECO is encouraged to make quick, pragmatic decisions to resolve applications…The[y] should not rely unnecessarily on documentary evidence.”
Sadly, it appears officials at the BHC are substituting their own personal dispositions and prejudices for the authority of their rules and guidelines. And when attempts are made to draw their attentionto some of these questionable decisions in reapplications they still remain resolute in their arrogant obstinacy by resorting to flimsy reasons to justify their earlier decisions.
We hope this situation improves forthwith. An applicant who has paid the requisite visa fee should be entitled to have his application considered fairly and reasonably and not on preconceived and prejudicial notions which impact negatively on the decision making process.
Emmanuel Opoku Acheampong
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