Ask the Consul – May 2023

Think Twice About Assistance in the Visa Process


There has been an increase in the number of third-party preparers or visa service providers who create fake appointment letters or charge exorbitant fees for visa services that you can otherwise do yourself. In this edition of our Ask-the-Consul, we will provide some tips to avoid scams.

Do I need to pay for U.S. visa and other immigration forms?
No. All of our forms are free and available at and Use these official sites for the correct, up-to-date forms.

Should I use a third party, such as internet café staff or a visa consultant to complete my visa application?
Avoid visa consultants who offer to improve your chances of qualifying for a visa by entering false information on your visa application.  False information can disqualify you and make you permanently ineligible for a visa.  You are responsible for what is in your visa application. For this reason, we encourage applicants to complete their visa application and pay the required visa processing fees themselves. Our website offers comprehensive information on all our visa services along with the applicable fees.
If you need assistance, ensure the person helping you is entering accurate information.  You must review your application before the form is submitted.  Request and keep a copy of your application and confirmation and proof of direct payment of the visa processing fees.

Can I pay someone to improve my chances of getting a visa?
No. Avoid anyone who makes such a claim! Visa consultants cannot improve your chances of qualifying for a visa and they have no “inside” connection with the Embassy. Your eligibility is determined by a consular officer after a visa interview.  Report anyone who claims to improve your chances of qualifying for a visa to

Does knowing someone at the Embassy improve my chances of getting a visa?
Knowing someone at the embassy will not help you get a visa. An applicant’s qualifications – as presented in the visa application and at the interview – and U.S. law are the only basis on which we make visa decisions. Regulations prohibit Embassy officials from providing unofficial assistance to visa applicants.

The visa consultant wants to use their email address to create and manage my appointment. Is that okay?
No.  You must use your own email address to create an account to manage your visa application and appointment. The Consular Section often sends case status updates to the email address you use to register. Using someone else’s email may cause you to miss important updates about your case and cause case delays. If someone is helping you, make sure they give you the login details or confirmation number.  A free email account can be set up from a computer or smartphone.

I’ve heard that understanding the visa process is extremely difficult. I’m afraid I’ll make mistakes if I don’t get help.
The U.S. government works to ensure the visa process is open and transparent. The U.S. Embassy maintains its website and with step-by-step information to help applicants through the various processes.  Some businesses who claim to be “visa facilitators” and “visa application service centers” profit by making the process appear more complicated than it really is.

If I report visa fraud committed by someone else, will I be disadvantaged when I apply?
Reporting fraud committed by someone else will not negatively impact your application.  Protecting the integrity of the visa process is a priority for us. To report visa fraud, email

“Ask the Consul” is a monthly column from the U.S. Embassy answering questions about U.S. immigration law and visa issues. Detailed information about visas and travel can be viewed at, and Applicants are strongly encouraged to prepare their own documents and avoid third-party advice. U.S. Consular rules change frequently, and non-US government advisors often provide inadequate or inaccurate information. Please contact our Visa Information Service Center on toll free numbers: 1-877-246-6788 or 703-988-5765 if you have general visa questions.”