If you’re a foreigner who wants to attend school in the United States, you need to get a student visa. Student visas will allow you to be in the United States legally for the duration of your education. You must be enrolled in school in order for your visa to be valid, and you must return to your home country after graduation.
Earning a student visa is not an easy process. Instead, it’s long, daunting and often stressful. Unfortunately, if you don’t know how to receive your student visa, you’re putting yourself in harm’s way. There are far too many scam artists out there looking to make a fortune off an unsuspecting student.
In order to avoid student visa scams, be sure to use the following tips.
Only use information provided through embassy or country website.
When looking to attain your student visa, you need to go directly through the website of the embassy or country. For example, if you want a US student visa, you should only use information provided to you though the Travel.State.gov or USCIS website. These government websites will provide you with all the information and application you need to retrieve your student visa. Using a random website or choosing the first result in a Google search query is not a smart idea, as many scammers try to lure students in through fake websites.
Remember that applications are free.
In the United States, student visa applications are free to receive. You will be able to download the application for free or receive a hard copy from the USCIS. There are filing fees to pay for the submission of your application, but you will not be asked to pay money up front. If you are ever prompted to pay for an application, use this as a warning that you’re being scammed.
Remember there will always be an interview.
Student visas require a hard application and an in-person interview. There is no exception. If you are ever being promised a student visa without having to sit through an interview, it should serve as a red flag that the student visa is a scam. Every student visa applicant is required to have an in-person interview, so be sure to schedule and prepare for it.
Know what to pay.
The cost of a student visa will vary over time, but it will typically be around $300-$350. If you are ever being charged a significant amount of money for your student visa, it’s a scam. All fees are also made directly to the USCIS, so never give cash or make the check payable to a specific individual. Your fees are also due at the time of your application submission. If you’re paying online, be sure the website you’re using is secure.
Don’t give personal information via email.
The USCIS will never ask for personal information from you via email. If you are ever asked to share personal information, such as credit card information, don’t. This is a big red flag of a student visa scam. Only submit this information through a secured government website to keep yourself and your identity safe.
Make sure you keep accurate records of your application and any documentation you sent with your student visa application. Keep hard copy receipts of payments. Keep confirmation emails of application submissions and keep copies of every document you send to the USCIS. This way, if something ever seems off about a conversation you had with someone claiming to be from the USCIS, you’ll have hard copy proof that you did pay or that your application was successfully received.