More Ghanaians are now more successful in their applications for UK visas than some two years ago, says new British High Commissioner to Ghana, His Excellency Peter Jones.
The current average visa approval rate is about 68 percent relative to the 2008 rate of 51 percent, with nearly seven out of ten applicants being approved at present.
And the improvement in the visa application success rate, according to Peter Jones, is largely attributable to the fact that more and more people are complying with requirements of the visa regime and with proper documentation.
“We do encourage people to apply the right way for a visa whether it’s for a short term visit or longer term and I think the key message is that plan ahead, think well in advance if you want to come because lots of other people want to come as well so we are processing ever high numbers of applications. So plan ahead, look online; all the information is available online either through the website of the High Commission here in Accra or directly unto the UK border agency home office website in the UK – everything is explained there in terms of what people need to do, what the time scales are, what supporting documentation they need to provide. If people don’t have access to their own computers they can come to the visa application centre in Labone in Accra which has its own computers and they can use those, fill in the forms, have all explained to them in terms of what documentation they need to provide.
“So plan ahead, you have to do it online, now everybody has to do it online. And the other important thing is do what the system tells you. So if it asks for certain kind of documentary, supporting evidence, provide those, everybody has to do that and if people do all that successfully then they will get their visa.”
High Commissioner Peter Jones who was speaking in an interview with myjoyonline.com, stressed that it is very critical that people intending visits to the UK, either as students or short term visitors, try to do so legally and in the right way rather than to bypass the system or in the worse case, enter illegally.
“We have an issue globally, this is not Ghana specific, it’s global with people who have tried to come illegally or irregularly to the UK and it’s often very tragic when you look at what happens in those situations. First of all a lot of people will give a lot of money to facilitators or middle men or people who claim or pretend they can get them to the UK when often they can’t. And incredible amounts are handed over to these facilitators. You hear typically sums of US$20,000 for example often spent to no results at all and going to criminal gangs…”
The human cost to the illegal attempts at migration, he explained, also sees vibrant youths making journeys which from all intents, are simply perilous across the Mediterranean in which many people die, many people get missing, many people are exploited, with very few making it through to what they think of as the Eldorado.
“So we would have a very strong message to people – don’t try and do it that way, it’s not a good thing to do. You’ll fall in the hands of criminals and if you do and actually make it through to the United Kingdom which is now more difficult because our border controls are quite thorough – you will be found and if you are, you will be returned. So don’t come that way.”
Mr Peter Jones, a career diplomat, who is also Non-Resident Ambassador to Togo, called his appointment as High Commissioner to Ghana a great privilege because of the importance of UK/Ghana relations.
And while on the job, UK/Ghana trade relations, (and he is happy that the likes of Tullow Oil are major players in Ghana’s oil find and therefore economy); set of values common to the present and future of the peoples of the UK and Ghana such as belief in democracy, respect for human rights, proper legal process as well as international security are areas that will engage Peter Jones administration. (You can listen to Peter Jones' comments here).
“I think it’s a great time to come. I have a sense of opportunity in Ghana, obviously the economy is growing and there are many positive signs. We have British companies active in all of that and part of my job will be helping that commercial set of relationships between Ghana and the United Kingdom not just in one direction but in the other direction as well so Ghanaian companies who want to do business in the UK, invest in the UK, that’s something we would very much encourage as well.
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