Applying for a UK visa can be stressful. It’s easy to get swept away when someone promises to help make it easier – or, if you’re told you need to hand over more cash to process your application. We look at a few of the most common UK immigration scams and ways you can protect yourself.
Scammers tend to use one of two main ruses. They usually either promise to make your UK visa application quicker or claim that there is a problem with your current visa or application.
Their solution could be to offer you an easier route to obtaining your visa, but scammers will usually require a down payment of some sort.
Popular current scams
Websites that offer fake UK jobs
There are no shortcuts to a job in the UK.
Applying for and getting a job online, without a proper interview, should raise a red flag. This scam makes money by asking you to pay visa and work permit fees to secure the position.
A legitimate prospective employer would direct you to the relevant .gov website or a reputable agency like 1st Contact to apply.
Calls from the “Home Office” claiming there is a problem with your visa
This tactic is particularly aimed at students, although anyone in the UK on a visa could fall prey to this scheme.
You will be asked to send money to a specified account to prevent your visa being cancelled or your immediate deportation. The caller may sound authentic and convincing, but asking a few detailed questions can help to weed out any fraudsters.
People who target applicants for UK work visas
Again, you’ll receive a phone call from someone posing as a UK government official.
You will be asked to pay money into a holding bank account as proof that you have enough funds to support yourself in the UK.
While you do need to prove that you have enough money to support yourself in the UK, you will never be asked to transfer this money to another account. HMRC will only ever request bank statements for proof of funding.
How to protect yourself
Something sounds too good to be true? You should be suspicious if:
- You receive an email from a supposed UK employer or immigration agent using a hotmail.com, gmail.com or any other free, web-based email address.
- You’re asked to pay money via an unsecure or untraceable payment service, such as Ukash or a paysafecard.
- You’re asked for your bank account or credit card details, or any other confidential information.
If you are concerned that you have been contacted by a scammer, it’s worth checking the email address that they’ve used. Official Home Office email addresses are always in one of the following two formats:
If someone claims to be from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, their email address should be one of the two below:
If you are contacted by a suspicious person, report it to Action Fraud, either through their website or by phoning 030 0123 2040 from within the UK.