U.S. Embassy says touts jeopardize visa chances

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US Embassy says touts and travel agents operate with impunity

By Jeph Ajobaju, Editor-in-Chief

Touts and travel agents are scamming Nigerians with impunity right under our noses, US Embassy warns; and laments that he cannot do anything to stop it as the fraudsters operate nearby but not on his premises.

This reflects the quagmire of the Nigerian system where financial fraud and other forms of crime are worsening and spreading because law enforcement officers, instead of pursuing and deterring criminals, collect bribes. -wine as their own slice of the national pie.

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“So, unfortunately, visa facilitators and travel agents, and a few others, are manipulating our visa appointment system for their own financial gain,” said the U.S. Embassy Consular Coordinator, Susan Tuller, to reporters in Lagos.

“And even though in Lagos they operate in the parking lot, right next to our consular operations, we really have little control over that because they don’t operate on our property and we can’t monitor them ourselves.

“Unfortunately, visa facilitators operate here with impunity. They operate for financial gain.

“And as long as they are allowed to do this and as long as Nigerians continue to pay very high fees for them to get an appointment, that will probably continue and it makes it very difficult for us to really control the number of appointments. visa that we make available.

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Danger of booking an interview through touts

The US Mission launched “Interview-Free Renewals” on February 1 to expedite the renewal of non-immigrant visas for Nigerians who have visited and returned from America without breaking the law.

The US visa application fee is $160 worldwide and payment is valid until September 2023 due to the backlog caused by the pandemic, instead of the previous one-year validity.

“I really want to reiterate that there is no reason to pay extra fees to a visa facilitator or a travel agent,” Tuller pointed out, according to a report by PREMIUM TIME.

“At the moment there are thousands of appointments available for this maintenance-free renewal program, they are available online now.

“And as long as you meet the criteria and follow the procedures that I’m going to outline for you, there’s no reason to pay someone to get that appointment.

“One of the real challenges with paying someone for the appointment is that the visa facilitators use false information to book these appointments.

“So when you buy an appointment from them, you don’t know what information they put into the system. Once the information is entered into the system, that system becomes part of your consular service file with us.

“And we see a lot of people paying the host who even know what was used to book the appointment, and then they come in and we can’t see them because the information in the system doesn’t match the information that they have on their passports and what they tell us.

“I really urge people to do it themselves. Don’t pay someone to do it for you and you don’t know what will happen to it. All information is publicly available at www.ustraveldocs .com.

Apply in person

Tuller also stressed the importance for visa applicants to apply in person or, if it is a family, by a family member.

“What we don’t want is to create a whole new industry for our visa facilitators to charge for filing people’s passports.

“So we’re asking you to come in person and then if we have any questions we can ask you immediately to make sure you have all the information we need.”

Eligibility criteria

The U.S. Mission has expanded its visa services to assist nonimmigrant visa applicants in Nigeria who qualify to renew their visa.

It indicates that one may be eligible for a visa renewal without an interview if your application is for a B1/B2, F, M, J (academic only), H, L or C1/D (combined only) visa and you meet each of the following criteria:

  • Your previous visa was issued in Nigeria.
  • Your previous visa is in the same classification as your current application.
  • Your previous visa was a multiple-entry visa with full validity.
  • Your previous visa has expired within the last 24 months or will expire within the next 3 months from the date of application.
  • You have all your passports covering the entire period since the receipt of the previous visa and the passport with the most recent visa.
  • You have never been arrested or convicted of a crime or misdemeanor in the United States, even if you subsequently received a waiver or pardon.
  • You have never worked without authorization or stayed beyond your authorized time in the United States.
  • If you have not yet paid the visa fee, you will need to pay online or in cash at a GTBank before scheduling your visa renewal application.
  • Log in to the account using the information you used the last time you made a visa appointment or create a profile.
  • Select Nonimmigrant Visa Application, New Application/Appointment Schedule, and No-Interview Visa Renewal.
  • Fill in your information and add all family members who are applying and who also meet all the eligibility criteria. (Each applicant must meet the criteria individually; minors can apply without an interview only if they themselves meet the eligibility criteria.)
  • Answer a series of questions to determine your eligibility for the program.
  • If you are eligible, schedule a date and time to submit your documents to the US Consulate in Lagos (for February appointments) or the US Embassy in Abuja (starting in March).
  • Gather the required documents as indicated on the appointment letter and present them at your appointment time.
  • Your passport will be returned to you by DHL with your visa, if your application is approved, or with a letter telling you the next steps to complete your application.

The notice adds:

Emergency appointment

“If you have a life-threatening or life-threatening emergency, you can request an expedited in-person interview, however, to accommodate interview-free visa renewals, appointments will be very limited.

“Business trips, conferences, weddings and graduations are not considered emergencies.

“If you have an emergency and need to travel immediately, please follow the instructions provided at https://www.ustraveldocs.com/ng or +234-1-227-8955 to request an emergency appointment.

Special Note

“Third parties unaffiliated with the U.S. Embassy Abuja and Consulate General Lagos may seek to take advantage of various visa services to target visa applicants with fraudulent offers or claims.

“Applicants must complete their own forms and make their own appointments via official sites.

“As future interview-waiver appointment opportunities become available, they will be communicated via our website.

“Remember to rely only on information from authentic sources: https://travel.state.gov https://ng.usembassy.gov/visas/ and https://www.ustraveldocs.com/ng

“Avoid being scammed!” »

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