It appears calls for refund for bounced visas by Embassies operating in Ghana may not be heeded anytime soon as some Embassies have already squashed the possibility of refunds.
The Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) has renewed pressure for the embassies to review their visa policies.
It describes the development as an infringement on the rights of individuals.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Consumer Protection Agency, Kofi Kapito, who has been at the fore front of the issue argues that the practice by the Embassies is an infringement on the rights and freedoms of consumers.
Citing the Canadian Embassy and the British High Commission as most complained institutions, Mr. Kapito stressed the need for the practice to stop.
“I do not know how an agent who knows me from nowhere can get documents to support my application that for a fee for a first timer, I need to pay 1000 dollars where a repeat traveler will have to pay 500 dollars to get me a visa; that is criminal,” he asserted.
The CPA boss added, “The British Embassy has all of a sudden changed the way of doing business introducing what is known as the visa traveler fees. In this case, the visa fees could cost as much as 5,000 cedis depending on how long the duration of stay is.”
At the moment, if you plan to visit the USA, you would be required to pay a non-refundable visa fee of 160 dollars equivalent to 680 cedis.
A visit to the United Kingdom will cost you 89 pounds or 493.06 cedis.
This will afford you a stay of up to six months.
But in case a visitor opts for a five year visa, then he or she would have to pay 612 pounds or 3,390 cedis.
Meanwhile, a visitor planning to come to Ghana from the USA would be required to pay a non-refundable visa fee of 100 dollars or 425 cedis.
In the case of the US, the visa would allow you to travel to the country for up to 5 years before it expires.
US Embassy not to refund bounced visa fees
Responding to the concerns of the CPA, the US Ambassador to Ghana, Robert Jackson whose outfit issues over 10,000 visas annually, explained that the charges are to cover administrative expenses.
“When people apply for a visa, they are applying for a service, they are paying for an interview. People do not get the visas and often it is because they do not provide accurate information or misrepresentations. We make every effort to ensure that Ghanaians get the opportunity to travel to the United States for legitimate reasons,” he explained.
Mr. Jackson also stressed a no refund policy by his office.
“The fee actually serves two purposes; it covers the cost of interviewing and processing the visas. It also discourages people who are not qualified from applying and that is just the reality of the situation….a refund is a no, there will be no refund.”
Consumers back refund agenda
But some travellers who have been speaking to Citi Business News will have none of this.
“They need to refund denied visa applicants if I get it then there is no issue but if I am not granted, then at least forty to fifty percent of the cost must be refunded,” one asserted.
Another traveler with a terrible experience remarked, “Last year, my family and I applied for American visa and unfortunately the money wasn’t refunded to us hence went waste. So I think that the Embassies must refund people’s money back to them.”
CPA issues 3 week ultiamtum
Well, the discussion will continue until a common ground is reached.
In the meantime, the clock is ticking for the Ghanaian authorities to meet the twenty-one day ultimatum by the Consumer Protection Agency or be met with a protest to express their displeasure.
By: Pius Amihere Eduku/citibusinessnews.com/Ghana