Expats in USA and Australia warned over VISA scams

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Expats in USA and Australia warned over VISA scams

Wannabe expats to the USA and Australia have been warned by officials to be aware of scammers that offer to assist them with their visa applications and then demand extra payments for doing so.

The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) revealed that there have been reports of individuals impersonating the organisations officers and seeking payment to fix ‘irregularities’ in visa applications.

“DIAC has received information from a number of clients who have been contacted by people claiming to be from immigration-related agencies. Conmen claiming to be from fabricated immigration or border security agencies tell targets their Visa details are out of date, specifying an identification number,’ he explained. ‘The caller asks them to confirm their identification details then requests an immediate penalty payment to an offshore address, or else their Visa will be cancelled and they could be jailed. Anyone phoned by people seeking such payments should refuse to pay, tell the caller you are aware of their scam, that you will be reporting the matter to police, and then hang up,’ he added.

US authorities meanwhile are warning that there are many groups offering to help expats with immigration services that are not authorised to do so.

‘While many of these unauthorised practitioners mean well, all too many of them are out to rip you off. This is against the law and may be considered an immigration service scam,’ said a spokesman for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). ‘If you need help filing an application or petition with USCIS, be sure to seek assistance from the right place, and from people that are authorized to help. Going to the wrong place can delay your application, cost you unnecessary fees and possibly lead to removal proceedings,’ the spokesman explained.

In response the USCIS has launched the Unauthorised Practice of Immigration Law (UPIL) initiative in a bid to help people avoid the scammers.

Have you been the victim of scammers? Or encountered any that other expats should be aware of? Let us know via Twitter, Google+ or Facebook.

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