In a visa counseling session organised by the American Chamber of Commerce of The Gambia in collaboration with the US Embassy, the new head of consular section said: “A big part of our law in which we work by to process visas makes us to assume that an applicant is intending to come to the United States illegally unless he/she can prove otherwise. So the burden of proof on what the law says is on the applicant. It is for the applicant to show in clear terms that he/she has some ties to his/her country which will suggest that he/she is going to the US on a genuine purpose and coming back. It is because of this law that our refusal rate in this country has been very high in the past. But the country’s US visa approval or refusal rate has gone down in the past three years even though we cannot give the available statistics on the number of those that have been denied a visa. It is hard for someone when he/she doesn’t qualify for a visa but it is true that most people find it difficult to overcome that burden of proving that they will not overstay their visas. The information on how to apply for a US visa is on our website. There are no sort of a middlemen that can service a visa other than the consul. No one can guarantee a visa other than a consul.
“I think some of you may have known my predecessor but I am here to take his place. I am here to tell you what the consular section of the embassy does and also to explain a little bit about processing a visa. This is because sometimes the accusations coming from outside the embassy are very serious. There have been accusations that if someone has been refused a visa, it means the consul was in a bad mood that day. You will realise that there are laws that we are abound to and we have to apply those laws. We don’t make the laws but it is the US Congress that makes the laws and we follow and apply those laws. Our role all around the world is to facilitate legitimate travelling to the United States and it is our job to figure out as best as we can, though we are not mind readers, whether the person travelling was really on a legitimate trip to the US. On the issue of ties that we look at when processing a visa, businesses can be a form of ties but it may not also be a tie because we have seen people who have gone to the US on the pretext of a business tie and never came back. Family, jobs and owning a property can all be a tie and sometimes they may not.”
Yesterday’s event was graced by officials from the American Chamber of Commerce and the US Embassy in Banjul as well as a cross-section of Gambian entrepreneurs seeking to explore business opportunities in the United States.]]>