VFS Global Provides a Step-by-Step Guide to Mitigate Visa Appointment Fraud

The meteoric surge in travel worldwide has opened a gateway for not just globe-trotting travellers but also for a shadowy underbelly of scam artists. As tourists give in to their wanderlust in what’s termed as ‘revenge travel’, many find themselves at the mercy of fraudsters preying on the increased demand for visa appointments.

So, it is essential to be aware of common scenarios to protect yourself from falling victim to fraudsters who may deceive unsuspecting visa applications into paying money for booking visa appointments.

Given this context, the following is the guidance from VFS Global, the world’s largest outsourcing and technology services specialists for governments and diplomatic missions, on ways to stay clear of scams such as selling appointments, issuing fake appointment letters, claiming to influence positive visa decisions, etc.

Amit Kumar Sharma, Head-Americas, VFS Global


Q1. Where should one head to book visa appointments?

www.VFSglobal.com is the only official website to book visa appointments for the countries we serve.

Q2. Is there a fee to book visa appointments?

We do not charge any payment for scheduling visa appointments for countries we serve. Appointments are free and can only be booked at www.vfsglobal.com. There could be a nominal service fee to prepay for select countries. The availability of visa appointment slots is determined solely by the respective government. (Embassy/Consulate)

Q3. Does VFS Global associate with third-party entities for visa facilitation?

No, we do not work in association with any third-party entity. Applicants should beware of scammers and fraudulent entities or imposters who claim to be associated with us in any capacity or pose as VFS Global to dupe them. We are also working very closely with travel agent associations to educate and create awareness among travellers to beware of such kinds of fraud.

Q4. Does VFS Global play any part in visa decision-making?

The decision on visa applications, the visa tenure, and the timelines to process them lie solely on the respective embassies or consulates. VFS Global only handles the administrative and non-judgemental aspects of the visa application process. We have no role or influence on the decision of your visa application. Even if someone is opting for value-added services, it does not influence quicker or positive visa decisions.

Q5. Does the company seek personal information or upfront payment via social media, email, SMS, or calls?

We never ask visa applicants to share their personal information or make an upfront payment via any social media message, email, SMS, or call. If you have been asked to make payments to personal accounts to expedite your visa application process, you may be interacting with a scammer. We urge applicants to guard against sharing personal details unless the authenticity of the requester is confirmed. Payments should only be made through our official website (www.vfsglobal.com) or at our Visa Application Centre.

Q6. How do you educate people on visa fraud?

We conduct extensive social media campaigns to raise awareness about visa fraud and educate customers on how to identify and report fraudulent activities. Our sustained efforts over the past years have yielded good results. If you come to know that fraud is being perpetrated, we encourage you to contact local police and/or competent authorities and also to keep us informed by reporting the fraud at acco@vfsglobal.com.

Q7. Does VFS Global offer immigration and job services?

No, we do not provide immigration and job services. Applicants are advised to be cautious of scammers offering spurious job or immigration opportunities for money.

Here’s a look at their Modus Operandi:

  • Scammers pose as fake employers or immigration agents offering jobs or immigration, falsely claiming to be from VFS Global
  • Using a fake ‘email ID’, they impersonate heads or key departments of the company and send fabricated job offer letters and official-looking documentation via email.
  • Often the email is sent from an ID very similar to VFS Global’s official websites and email addresses (e.g. using vfsglobal-helpline.com, instead of vfshelpline.com)
  • When the intended victim calls/checks the website on the communication, easily available masking software is used to clone VFS Global’s web page/mask phone numbers, so it appears that the call has indeed come from an official VFS Global line
  • The victim is then asked to verify the number on an official-looking website or even to submit documents at an ‘office’, leading him/her to further believe the caller
  • The call is backed by fabricated job offer letters and official-looking documentation sent via email
  • To show acceptance of the job or immigration opportunity, the individual is asked to make an upfront payment and share personal information, such as ID or bank details, to take things forward.

Q8. How exactly do unsuspecting visa aspirants get scammed and how does one separate the real from the fake?

The travel outlook is extremely positive. Given the high demand, VFS Global, through all its customer touchpoints has consistently urged applicants to apply for visas early to avoid last-minute surprises and most essential stay safe from grey operators. Some grey operators have been misusing the demand-supply gap and the pent-up travel desperation to fleece applicants by offering them visa appointments in exchange for money. Visa appointments are free and available on a first-come, first-served basis only at www.vfsglobal.com. Beware of fraudulent entities trying to sell appointments independently or in the name of VFS Global.

Q9. What are the signs to know that you are being scammed?

  • You receive emails with job offers or immigration promises from fabricated email IDs via personal email accounts (Gmail, Yahoo, .co.in, etc.)
  • You receive a job offer from a company you have NOT applied to
  • You are asked to make an advance payment to a personal bank account with the threat of visa application rejection or deportation, or loss of the job offer
  • You receive pixelated, out-of-proportion VFS Global logo on fabricated offer letters/ contracts

By staying informed and following the guidelines provided by VFS Global applicants can safeguard themselves from falling victim to visa fraud and ensure a smooth and legitimate visa application experience.