GIS Fights Foreign Ministry Over Visas

The Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration have locked horns over which of them is mandated to issue entry visas in the country’s foreign missions.

While the Foreign Affairs Ministry relies on what the GIS describes as an outdated law as basis for its position, a source at the latter points out that the latest law on the subject supersedes the former.

A source at the GIS who craved anonymity, told DAILY GUIDE that ‘there is evidence to show that by international best practice, immigration officers are posted to Missions to issue entry visas. As consular officers, their specific mandate is to issue visas and other related matters.’

The source said that ‘a microscopic sample of foreign missions from various continents in Ghana, substantiate this point. From Africa: Nigeria, South Africa, La Cote D’Ivoire, Togo and Burkina Faso follow this trend. So also in Europe: Spain,The Royal Netherlands, Denmark and Britain and in the Americas: Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Canada and Australia.’

The GIS he said, ‘is the sole agency of the Government of Ghana established to advise on and to ensure the effective implementation of all laws and regulations pertaining to immigration and related issues.’ He added that ‘the visa policy of Ghana is clearly set out in the Immigration Act, 2000 (Act 573) and the Immigration Regulations, 2001 (L.I. 1691).’

These laws, he said, are operationalized by the visa application and processing regimes instituted in the Ghana Immigration Service and Ghana’s Missions abroad, pointing out that ‘the Ghana Immigration Service administers the issuance of emergency entry visas and visas on arrival as well as entry and exit clearance at the ports of entry.’

The issuance of all forms of entry visas to Ghana as a function under the Ministry of the Interior and discharged by the Ghana Immigration Service or its representative, continues to witness operational and administrative challenges due to the lack of coordination and unstructured reporting systems between the Missions abroad and the GIS, he observed.

It is against the backdrop of these anomalies and inconsistencies that he said the Ghana Immigration Service is asking that ‘it be permitted to assume its function, which is their prerogative by law.’ The GIS he said, ‘has the capacity, the resources, structures and the operational competencies to discharge its visa management mandate efficiently and effectively.’

It is not the intention of the GIS that its officers should be sent to the Missions immediately to take over. ‘But a well-coordinated plan of action would be initiated to ensure that in some key missions which are risk-prone and issue large amounts of visas for which there could be probable slippages, professionals are sent to these embassies to support the staff in the missions in a more specialised professional manner,’ the source underscored.

‘The case made for immigration officers to be posted abroad to perform immigration duties at Ghana’s Missions is well-grounded since it is in compliance with domestic legislation and conforms to international best practice,’ he added.

By A.R. Gomda

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