Effective October 3, 2016, the United States begins the enforcement a visa ban on the Gambia government officials. Already, the United States Banjul Embassy has discontinued issuing visas to Gambian government officials, others associated with the government, and their families. There might be exceptions for travel based on U.S. international obligations and to advance humanitarian and other U.S. government interests.
The visa ban was slapped on Gambian officials after the West African nation’s refusal to comply with the United States for the deportation of over 2,000 Gambians. Some of them are reported to be in detention. These Gambian citizens have all been afforded full access to the U.S. legal system but have exhausted all possible legal appeals. The Gambia government’s refusal to issue passport or other travel documents to those on deportation order has left U.S. officials with no choice other than allowing the would-be deportees to stay in the country. Except in limited circumstances, the U.S. will not issue visas to Gambian officials.
“We hope that travel documents for Gambians under deportation orders in the U.S. will be provided soon so that these Gambians can return home and U.S. Embassy Banjul can resume issuing all categories of visas,” a U.S. Banjul Embassy official told Kairo News.
Consular operations at the U.S. Embassy in Banjul remain open. Visa operations will be conducted as usual, with the exception of cases involving government and government-related categories that cannot be issued until restrictions have been lifted.
Meanwhile, the visa ban has already caused shakeup in Banjul, with President Yahya Jammeh reportedly apportioning blame on Foreign Affairs Ministry officials even though he was informed about a possible visa ban a month ago. Despite his public disdain about the country, Mr. Jammeh is worried about the fate of his properties and many interests in the United States. Also the First Lady Zeinab Zuma Jammeh and her two children spend more time in the United States than the Gambia. She too risks a visa ban, which according to State House insiders, will deny Jammeh’s children education and medical services.