Beware of online United States visa scams

South Africans heading to the United States and wanting to apply for a visa exemption must watch out for “shady operators” online, according to a report in the Sunday Times.

The report stated that several websites and email scams are currently trying to trick travellers into believing they are US government affiliates which can help them apply for the exemption.

The online exemption application is known as the Esta (Electronic System for Travel Authorization), and is used by people wanting to travel to the US under the Visa Waiver Programme.

It involves an $18 (R275) fee, stated the report.

Several sites claim to be third-party companies linked to the official Esta site, and charge users a fee to assist with registering and submitting their applications.

“Such businesses are not endorsed by the US government but are designed to appear as if they are. Although deceptive, they are not illegal and if you find yourself making an application through such a site, you will be liable for their fees,” stated the report.

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Beware of online United States visa scams