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Travel Advisory: US Visa Scam

Department of Tourism
Region III

PRESS STATEMENT
03/15/08

DOT WARNS VISA APPLICANTS ON QUICK FIX

The Department of Tourism – Region III recently issued a travel advisory giving early warning to the general public aiming for temporary visit to the United States not to be victimized by unscrupulous travel agencies that promise to secure “instant visa” and in the process charging them a hefty sum for services so rendered.

This was the announcement made by Regional Director Ronaldo Tiotuico in a press statement issued recently on the heels of a spate of complaints from some would-be tourists who ended up being cheated on their hard-earned cash.

The modus operandi of these travel agencies is to glib-talk their clients into believing that they have influence or contacts inside the US Embassy to expedite and even ensure the seamless releasing of their visa in no time at all. Once the client gives in, the travel agency operator convinces the client to advance the sum of P100,000 for processing of their papers like income tax returns, business permits, land titles and bank certification of deposits. After a lapse of a week or so, the agent goes back to his client to seek another advance payment usually amounting to P200,000 allegedly as payment for services rendered by lawyers or contacts working inside the US embassy.

Unmindful of the correct procedure in seeking visa, the client is then made to believe that he or she will now undergo personal interview at the embassy, after which the promised visa would be issued. As in several instances, the application is denied. He then complains to the agency operator. He gets nothing but a rebuke. The operator orders the forlorn client to seek another interview at the right time. But client is exasperated and seeks a refund of his advance payments. The agent objects to the demand saying payment for paper works and consultation fees to officials at the embassy have been paid.

The rest is an endless see-saw battle for money paid to the operator.

The tourism regional office advises the public not to give in to the advances of unscrupulous travel agencies as talks about having “inside influence” at the embassy are fraudulent and utter falsehoods, to say the least. The public is advised to call the tourism regional office for information on DOT-accredited travel agencies, visa application procedures and other requirements, Tel. No. (045) 625-8525/961-2612 or email us at [email protected]

 

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