“Think twice” before hiring visa service providers – US Embassy warns

…some charging exorbitant fees, creating fake appointment letters

The US Embassy in Georgetown is warning members of the public about visa scams.
In a recent Ask the Consul Column, the Embassy noted that there has been an increase in third-party preparers or visa service providers creating fake appointment letters and charging exorbitant fees for visa services people can otherwise do by themselves.
In light of this, the consul has encouraged persons to “think twice” about getting assistance with the visa application process and has offered some tips to avoid scams.
The Embassy has said that visa and other immigration forms are always free and are available at
https://ceac.state.gov/ceac/ and https://www.uscis.gov/forms/all-forms. Persons are urged to use these official sites for the correct, and up-to-date forms.
A question was asked whether one should use a third party, such as internet café staff or a visa consultant to complete their visa application.
In this regard, it was advised that persons should avoid visa consultants who offer to improve their chances of qualifying for a visa by entering false information on their visa application.
“False information can disqualify you and make you permanently ineligible for a visa.  You are responsible for what is in your visa application. For this reason, we encourage applicants to complete their visa application and pay the required visa processing fees themselves.”
Further, you must use your own email address to create an account to manage your visa application and appointment since the Consular Section often sends case status updates to the email address you use to register. Using someone else’s email may cause you to miss important updates about your case and cause case delays. If someone is helping you with your visa application, you must make sure they give you the login details or confirmation number.
A free email account can be set up from a computer or smartphone.
If you need assistance with the visa application process, you must ensure that the person helping you is entering accurate information and review your application before it is submitted.
You should also request and keep a copy of your application and confirmation and proof of direct payment of the visa processing fees.
According to the consul, the embassy’s website at https://gy.usembassy.gov/visas/ offers comprehensive information on all visa services along with the applicable fees.
Can you pay someone to improve your chances of getting a visa? The answer to this question is no. In fact, people have been advised to avoid anyone who makes such a claim.
“Visa consultants cannot improve your chances of qualifying for a visa and they have no “inside” connection with the Embassy. Your eligibility is determined by a consular officer after a visa interview.  Report anyone who claims to improve your chances of qualifying for a visa to [email protected],” the consul has further guided.
Knowing someone at the Embassy will not help you get a visa since an applicant’s qualifications – as presented in the visa application and at the interview – and US law are the only basis on which consul officers make visa decisions.
Regulations prohibit Embassy officials from providing unofficial assistance to visa applicants.
The Embassy has said that the US Government works to ensure the visa process is open and transparent and maintains its website at https://gy.usembassy.gov/visas/ and https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-gy/niv/users/sign_in with step-by-step information to help applicants through the various processes.
It was reiterated that some businesses who claim to be “visa facilitators” and “visa application service centres” profit by making the process appear more complicated than it really is.
Meanwhile, reporting fraud committed by someone else will not negatively impact your visa application. “Protecting the integrity of the visa process is a priority for us. To report visa fraud, email [email protected],” the US Embassy has assured. (G1)