Ask the Consul {US Embassy series}: Official Information Your Best Source, Beware of Visa Consultants

There are many places that offer information on applying for U.S. visas. It is important to keep in mind that these sources of information can be classified into two groups: official and non-official. All of the information you need to complete a visa application and prepare for an interview can be found using official sources. The information found using official sources is freely available, correct and will help you navigate the visa process.

  • How Do I Know If U.S. Visa Information Is Official?

The only official sources for U.S. visa information are the websites of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy. The U.S. Department of State website includes comprehensive information on all types of visas and is available at . The website for the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown is http://barbados.usembassy.gov/.

Any person or website claiming that they can guarantee you a visa or provide you inside information for a fee should not be trusted.

Visa applicants are advised to be cautious in all dealings with private companies that claim to offer assistance in obtaining U.S. visas. If payment is requested for information from a non-U.S. Government source, this payment is not received by the U.S. Government and in no way applies toward a visa fee or ensures issuance of a visa. In some cases, these companies’ websites may even be used to gather personal information that could result in identity fraud or theft. Remember that all of the information that you need can be found in the official U.S. Government sources.

Private or non-official websites may provide legitimate and useful information about visas. However, the U.S. Department of State does not endorse, recommend or sponsor any information or material shown on these websites. Furthermore, the information provided may not be correct or up-to-date so you should always verify it independently using an official U.S. Government website.

  • Impostor or Fraudulent Websites and E-mail

Some websites try to mislead the public into thinking they are official U.S. Government websites and therefore provide an official means of obtaining a U.S. visa. These websites may feature a U.S. flag or picture of an official U.S. Government building or famous U.S. person to mislead you into believing that the website is sponsored by the U.S. Government.

Such websites may even require payment for services, such as to download forms and information about immigration procedures, which are otherwise free on the U.S. Department of State’s Visa Services website (), or available through U.S. Embassy Bridgetown’s website (http://barbados.usembassy.gov/). Sometimes, these websites may even contact or solicit you by e-mail to lure you to take advantage of their false offers to get you a U.S. visa.

  • Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery Program Scams

In some cases, these companies’ websites may even be used to gather personal information that could result in identity fraud or theft. Remember that all of the information that you need can be found in the official U.S. Government sources.

Some companies pretending to be the U.S. Government have sought money in order to “complete” DV lottery entry forms. The only official way to apply for the DV lottery is directly through the official U.S. Department of State Website (http://www.dvlottery.state.gov/) during a specified and limited registration period.

Registration for the DV 2012 program is scheduled for October 5, 2010-November 3, 2010. Those who enter the DV lottery and are successful by being randomly selected in the drawing are notified by the Department of State’s Kentucky Consular Center by letter, NOT by e-mail. No private organization or company is authorized by the U.S. Department of State to notify DV lottery applicants of their successful entry or the next steps for processing their immigrant visa. If you have any concerns that your notification is from a fraudulent source, DV applicants can now go online to the U.S. State Department’s DV winner website at http://www.dvlottery.state.gov/ESC/ and check for their name on the official list of DV winners. You will simply need to input your DV registration Confirmation Number, Family Name and Year of Birth.

  • Conclusion

Any person or website claiming that they can guarantee you a visa or provide you inside information for a fee should not be trusted. If it sounds too good to be true, it IS too good to be true. Remember that official sources are your best sources for information

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