Fake News: U.S. Is NOT Now Visa-Free For Ghana

Hoax Alert

  • by: Ryan Cooper
Fake News: U.S. Is NOT Now Visa-Free For Ghana

Did the United States waive visa restrictions on Ghanaian passport holders? No, that's not true: The United States recently eased some of the severe limitations it had imposed a year ago. However, Ghana is not a part of the Visa Waiver Program, which enables nationals of specific countries to enter the United States for tourism or business without obtaining a visa.

The claim originated from an article published by News7pm.com on January 16, 2019, titled "BREAKING NEWS: U.S is now visa-free for Ghana - Latest Ghana News" (archived here). It opened:

Ghanaians have been hit with good news today as the United States lifts a ban that was placed on Ghanaians making the US visa-free for Ghanaian passport holders.

The United States lifted the visa restrictions on Ghanaians and with effect from January 17, 2020, which automatically waives visa requirement for holders of all types of Ghanaian passports.

Ghanaians on social media have welcomed the news with joy as they express gratitude to President Akufo Addo for attaining such feat that would enable Ghanaians to travel to the United States without visas.

Users on social media only saw this:

BREAKING NEWS: U.S is now visa-free for Ghana - Latest Ghana News

Visa not required for United States

According to the BBC, on February 1, 2019, the United States imposed strict restrictions on Ghana after the country refused to accept the return of 7,000 Ghanaian nationals deported back into the country.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security told consular officers in Ghana to stop issuing certain visas to applicants.

About a year later, on January 17, 2020, the United States lifted those restrictions, but it reverted to the previous procedures, which still require visa applications. Ghana is not a part of the Visa Waiver Program.

Users who scroll down to the bottom of the News7pm.com story may notice that it is labeled as satire. The warning in the footer was copied from a famous hoax website.

Screen Shot 2020-02-08 at 11.42.46 AM.png

The News7pm.com site shares an Adsense account with jetsanza.com and a Google Analytics account with breaking-cnn.com, a site pretending to be CNN. These two sites have been linked to, or were part of, a vast network of Ghana-based fake news websites. Many of these sites have since been shut down.

We wrote about News7pm.com before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:

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  Ryan Cooper

Ryan Cooper, a staff writer and fact-checker for Lead Stories, is the former Director of Programming at CNN International, where he helped shape the network's daily newscasts broadcast to more than 280 million households around the world. He was based at the network's Los Angeles Bureau. There, he managed the team responsible for a three-hour nightly program, Newsroom LA.

Formerly, he worked at the headquarters in Atlanta, and he spent four years at the London bureau. An award-winning producer, Cooper oversaw the network's Emmy Award-winning coverage of the uprising in Egypt in 2011. He also served as a supervising producer during much of the network's live reporting on the Israel-Hezbollah conflict in 2006, for which CNN received an Edward R. Murrow Award.

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