Outgoing British High Commissioner to Ghana Jon Benjamin has said that immigration rules by the British government cannot be circumvented to favour any individual as some Ghanaians perceive, emphasising that his Chilean wife applies for visa like any other ordinary person anytime she wishes to travel to the UK.
He indicated that one of his challenges during his tenure in Ghana was having to explain to people that he could not influence the outcome of individuals’ visa applications.
“I’m sorry to say this, but a few people think by lobbying me somehow the rules don’t apply or I will click my fingers and circumvent the rules or change the decision,” he said.
He continued: “Just a few weeks ago we applied here [Ghana] for my wife’s visa. She is not British; she is from Chile, so to live with me with our family in UK she needs a residence visa. So we applied for that like everyone else.”
He pointed out that the application cost them “well over £2000, which we paid for”.
Mr Benjamin said they applied online and later went to the visa application centre at Mövenpick Hotel in Accra for the various processes.
He indicated that he had to supply copies of his bank statement, payslips, letters from his employer in London, and his wife submitted her biometric data and went through the whole process.
He noted that people were amazed the British High Commissioner’s wife would need a visa, but “she does and why did we go there [Movenpick]? Because we need to and did what everybody else did”.
“When I say that, a few people say: ‘You are lying, it can’t be true’, but it is true,” he indicated in an interview with Nana Abenaa on Ghana Celebrities TV recently.
Mr Benjamin added that he does not want to work in a system “where the rules apply to some people and then better-connected people get away with it or around those rules, I don’t like that and don’t want to be part of such a system”.
Mr Benjamin has been very vocal on issues not only affecting the UK but also Ghana.
He had to write a confidential letter to the Speaker of Parliament on behalf of the UK government citing four Members of Parliament (MP) for violating UK visa regulations on different occasions by either providing false information for their visa applications or facilitating the visas of some relatives who overstayed their visas in the UK.
Various sanctions were effected against the MPs for their roles in the offences outlined.