Visa fraud is one of the most common scams people migrating from developing countries to the West fall for. Fraudsters usually capitalize on people’s desperation to leave their home countries, the naivety of unsuspecting individuals, and the laziness of those who can’t put in the work required to get their visas approved. Self-applying is still the best way to go through the visa application process, although paying for extra help and guidance is good and rewarding. If you must use an agent to process your application, make sure they are registered and approved by the country they offer services for. Some schools even upload the contact information of registered immigration consultants on their international student’s section.

Here are ways on how to avoid visa fraud as an international student:

Nobody can guarantee a visa:

Visas are issued at the discretion of the consular or immigration officer so a third party cannot guarantee it. You should also note that there are a lot of criteria to be fulfilled before a visa can be issued so defaulting on any of them can lead to a denial. If someone guarantees you a visa, maybe you should reconsider working with them.

Do research on the visa you are applying for:

Visa policies change periodically so it’s always best to check in with the country’s immigration website for the policies in use. This will help you evaluate your eligibility for the visa and also the authenticity of your agent. If the documents your agent is using to put together the application are different from what is on the embassy’s website or if they are not aware of changed policies, you should be concerned. 

Verify agents:

It is always good to use accredited agents and if possible, those with a track record of success. Word of mouth recommendations should take precedence over online reviews.  Try and use agents that have worked with people in similar situations like yours, their experiences on the job will come in handy. They will be able to put together a solid application by avoiding all the pitfalls and capitalizing on the strengths.

Ask for an itemized bill:

It’s always good to know what services you are paying for and how much, that way you can tell if something looks suspicious. It is also a way of checking if you are working with a structured organization or an unregulated one. A legit immigration consultant or agency will have a stipulated amount for each service that makes up the whole package. The bill can also be used as legal proof if the need arises.

 Do It Yourself:

An agent can only help you put together an application, you are the one that will submit the application, be interviewed, accepted, or denied. At the end of the day, it is your life and your journey. Put your best foot forward by being on top of the process even if you are outsourcing some of the work. The essence of using an agent is for proper guidance on how to submit a strong application and not to leave the whole process to them.

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