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I was told that I can have a visitor visa to UK, is this legitimate?

I have received an invitation letter and a job offer, and I was contacted by the appointed travel agent to prepare all related documents for the visit such as flight tickets, accommodation, transportation, and visa application. However, they then asked for deposit money to be transferred to them in London, UK.

The corporate travel agent was appointed by the company that invited me for the job interview in London. They sent a letter of invitation, job offer and travel agent details asking to deal with it and said they will refund all my expenses upon arrival. The travel agent asked me to transfer the deposit for all requirements, then he provided me with an "Emergency Travel Document Form" to be filled in order to start the process.

As well as he asked for "Bank Travel Allowance" to be provided at the borders to secure my stay there and sent me a copy of a MasterCard with my name on it. Then he said he would arrange that visa to be obtained on arrival at the airport with all relevant documents which will be sent to me by "DHL" including the MasterCard, hotel reservation, and hard copy of my entry visa as I said before.

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Please clarify your nationality, and how exactly you intend to be able to work in the UK should you get the job. Also, who asked for deposit money to be transferred? Who appointed the travel agency, and who is paying for the trip? This smells pretty fishy, please provide more details. – jcaron Jan 19 at 9:26
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Yeah, deposit, bank transfer sets off "SCAMMER" alarm bells to me. – CMaster Jan 19 at 9:27
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Which airport is the visa meant to be provided to you at? If the answer is the UK airport, then you should know that airlines will not normally let you board the plane at your starting point if you do not have documentation proving you can enter the country you are going to. – CMaster Jan 19 at 10:20
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This is completely fake. Do not send these people any money or financial information. You will never see them again, and you will find yourself stranded at the airport. – Michael Hampton Jan 19 at 11:51
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Coming from The Workplace, a company flying you in for an interview should pay for everything. Even those that are honest about repaying you are a bad idea, because the process can be long and painstaking. As everyone else here has said, run away! – David K Jan 19 at 17:41

Based upon what you wrote, you are getting ripped off. It means you are the victim of a con.

  • A UK emergency travel document is issued to British citizens only. They will never issue an emergency travel document to a foreigner. That's the job of the foreigner's country.

  • Issuing a UK work permit (or UK visit visa) at the UK border (or airport) flat out does not happen. If you need a visa, you need to get one before you depart. While non-visa nationals do not require a visit visa, you're asking the question and framing yourself as a visa national.

  • Visa fees are collected by the UK government as part of the application process. There's a screen near the end of the application for the applicant to enter payment details.

  • Nobody gets in to the UK on a work permit (or visitor visa) without enrolling their biometrics. Absolutely nobody. To do that the applicant has to print out the form and take it to a VFS or similar enrollment centre. There is no way to avoid a personal appearance and what your agent proposes to do by sending you everything does not account for your personal appearance.

  • Nobody gives an interview invitation and job offer at the same time; a company can lose their migrant license for doing that.

  • There is no 'hard copy' of an entry clearance. It is a gummed vignette affixed to a full blank page of the passport.

  • The funds transfer arrangement is, quite frankly, bizarre. Nobody asks the applicant to pay for the whole ball of wax up front and wire it to a travel agent. Bizarre.

The Sting

It's likely that you were enthralled by the prospect of employment in the UK when you were offered a ridiculously attractive package which included a great job, all expenses paid, and a work visa. They need you to pay all of the expenses in advance and will refund this to you upon arrival.

After you send them the money, they will contact you explaining that an additional advance payment needs to be made to cover an administrative expense associated with your MasterCard. Once you send the additional payment they will contact you advising that another additional payment needs to be made because someone in UK immigration needs to receive a small 'discomfort' fee. Once you have paid that, they will explain that the CEO of your new company doubts your intentions and you will need to put up a payment to demonstrate your sincerity. After that, they will think up something else that you need to pay.

This cycle of additional payments will repeat itself until you are bled dry. After that they will disappear.

websites that offer jobs in the UK that do not exist. If you apply for one, they tell you that you have the job and ask you to pay visa and work permit fees. That is not how our visa system works, and there are no shortcuts to a job in the UK. A genuine employer would direct you to this website, where you can make an official application. If the job offer sounds too good to be true, it could be a scam. We will never guarantee a job in the UK

Source: Fraud, tricks and scams

Recommendations

  1. You need to check if the beneficiary of your proposed wire transfer is actually in the UK. Check the IBAN, I rather doubt you'll find the account and beneficiary in the UK.
  2. Check if your potential employer is licensed to sponsor migrants. If so, use the company's contact info on their web site to assure your beneficiary is not impersonating the company. I would expect that the company is not on the list OR you would be unable to call them directly (using their contact us) and verify your status.
  3. If you sent them your passport, you are in jeopardy of identity theft and more fraud. Take all the paperwork to the police and explain what happened.

Misc Notes

  • About getting entry clearance at the border...

    An applicant for an entry clearance must be outside the United Kingdom and Islands at the time of the application.

    Paragraph 28, Immigration Rules


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You don't get to convert visitor visa to a work visa, I don't think. Not while you're in the country. Either way though, yes, scam, absolutely. – Dewi Morgan Jan 20 at 4:36
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@DewiMorgan, there are no provisions for someone on a visitor visa to switch into a work permit, or anything else. It's simply the spiel sold to the OP by the scammers. – Gayot Fow Jan 20 at 4:39
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@Terry: That's wrong. Among the allowed activities on a general visitor visa is to "attend meetings, conferences, seminars, interviews". gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/…, Appendix 3, paragraph 5(a). You can't start work after the interview on a visitor visa, though. – Henning Makholm Jan 20 at 11:40
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@HenningMakholm it seems you are correct. I understood the meaning of interview to be different from job interview. – Terry Jan 20 at 12:03
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Issuing a work permit (or visit visa) at the border flat out does not happen... in the UK. I know that seems obvious, but just in case someone finds this answer in relation to another country: some countries do issue visas at customs – Jon Story Jan 21 at 10:43

One thing that stood out immediately to me (and it was mentioned by Gayot) is that emergency travel documents are given to citizens for travel to their country of citizenship and not to a foreign country. There are some exceptions (like refugees and asylum seekers - but these do not apply to you).

I have been flown in to another country for interviews before. You (as the applicant) to do not pay for the travel ticket or the hotel accommodation. It is all arranged in advance by the company inviting you.

Further, the company will send you an official letter of invitation - sometimes, they send this directly to the concerned embassy.

You still have to go through all the processes of obtaining a visa - collection of fingerprint data, filing of the application, arranging for an appointment, appearing in person (if required) and so on.

Despite all this - there is a chance you can be declined the visa. There are no guarantees and anyone offering you these is trying to take advantage of you.


I have been employed my entire professional life as an expat, here is the almost universal process that I have seen (across four countries and two continents) - and this (or a close approximation) is what you should expect to go through if you are being courted by a genuine employer.

If the process does not go like this - or is short circuited, especially if payment is asked upfront - immediately stop as its is someone trying to take advantage of your situation.

  1. The first interview is over the phone or Skype. There may be multiple interviews.

  2. If an in-person interview is required, and travel is required - the company pays all expenses (as detailed above). There is no guarantee of employment at this point either.

  3. After the interview process, if successful, you are given an official employment offer. This is a document that has (at minimum) your job role/title, start date, compensation (basic pay + any benefits). It is normally signed by the company, and there is a place for you to sign - signaling you have accepted the offer. Normally, this document is not the employment contract; which is drafted once the offer is accepted. The reason I mention this is because the contract is what you need as supporting document at the embassy, not the offer letter.

  4. Once the offer letter is accepted - the company starts drafting your employment contract. This has further details about your job, it may include additional information about your benefits. This is a legally binding document. At the same time, they will ask for your personal details such as copy of your passport (they will never ask for the real thing) to prepare for your visa process.

  5. After some time (the exact time depends on the country, and the type of job you are being offered) - you will receive documents from your employer that they have applied for a visa on your behalf; along with a copy of the application.

  6. Next, you take this document, a copy of your employment contract, your passport, and anything else that is required by the embassy (sometimes, these include medical tests!) and apply for a work visa (or whatever visa type is offered to you by the company). If your application is successful, you are granted the visa to travel.

  7. Depending on your contract - you may not be required to pay for your trip to the country (some contracts include relocation assistance, which helps with things like paying to move your furniture, arranging for temporary accommodation for you while you find permanent housing, etc. etc.) - normally though, you have to pay for this ticket yourself and arrive in the country.

  8. Once you enter the country and start your first day at the job, you will be required by HR to file further paperwork; and depending on the country you may be required to go through additional immigration formalities.

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@CMaster: I don't claim any specific knowledge of UK hiring practices, but how on earth is it possible to negotiate an employment contract while not showing it to one of the parties that are negotiating it? How can there even be a "first day of employment" before the negotiations are completed and the prospective employee has agreed to the result? – Henning Makholm Jan 20 at 9:59
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@jwenting: Sure, but CMaster's comment sounds like the contract is kept secret from the new hire until the first day of employment. I know if I were changing jobs, in Denmark, I wouldn't give notice to my old employer until I had a mutually agreed-to contract text in hand -- I wouldn't demand ink signatures on paper, though. – Henning Makholm Jan 20 at 10:19
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@HenningMakholm The broad terms are understood and discussed. It's legally possible to work like this (with a verbal/implied contract) in the UK. Mostly, it seems to be to gain leverage over the employee "well you're here now, with no alternative employment, so you're less able to dispute the terms". I suspect it changes as you get "higher up" the career ladder, but this happens routinley (source, my partner's last 2 roles (although not her current), my current role) – CMaster Jan 20 at 10:22
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@CMaster and so are for most of us job contracts as well. In markets where there's a glut of candidates for every job the company can pretty well dictate the terms of employment and get their pick of candidates still. – jwenting Jan 20 at 10:36
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@CMaster: One doesn't need to be "awash in job offers" in order to walk away from such shenanigans. Simply being currently employed will suffice. (And if you're currently unemployed, then it won't cost you much to play along and show up on the ostensible first-day-of-work to find out if the offered terms are acceptable or not, anyways. (That is, if it's not half a planet away, of course. But if your skills are in enough demand that companies will fly you around the planet just to interview you -- as is ostensibly the case in this question -- then certainly you're able to walk away too)). – Henning Makholm Jan 20 at 11:07

On your inital question: You can apply for a visitor visa with validities as long as 10 years (although individual visits are limited to a shorter duration). Note that while a visitor visa would be valid for attending an interview, you would have to convince the visa office that you intended to return home after the interview, then apply freshly for a working visa and work permit. You can read more about types of visa, and the rules for them, on the offical UK government website, gov.uk

However, various elements of your story suggests that there is no real chance of a job for you here, and that you would be denied a visa to the UK due to your confused evidence anyway. You mention that the documents you received contain a "job offer". In the UK, a "job offer" letter would take roughly this format:

Dear Applicant,

Company Name would like to offically offer you the role of job title, with a salary of £XX,XXX per year (plus additional benefits, please see the company handbook). The intended start date of your emplyment would be dd/mm/yyyy. This offer is conditional on receipt of valid references and confirmation of your legal right to work in the UK.

If you have any queries, please contact contact name, email address, or please perform paperwork actions to confirm your acceptance of the offer.

The offer is received after all interviews etc have been performed and you have been selected as the/one of the candidates for the role. You would not receive an offer before an interview and if you were to include an offer letter in a visitor visa application, it would work against you, as it would be evidence that you intended to work and not leave the country, in opposition to the rules of a visitor visa.

On top of this, the situation with the travel agent is very strange. If a company is expecting you to travel across the world for an interview, then return, then travel again to relocate to the country, then one would normally expect them to bear the costs. There are employers who might not do this, but they would normally then not expect you to attend an in person interview. In the event that you were expected to fund the trip yourself, or even fund the trip yourself and later be reimbursed by the employer, then you would be free to make your own arrangements, and not simply approached for money by their travel agent.

The travel agent's statements and requirements are themselves highly suspect. The requirement for a bank transfer (internationally!) immediatly raises red flags. Bank transfers (along with Western Union, Moneygram, etc) have no procedures for refunds, meaning once the money leaves your account it is gone, even if you can prove it was sent to a fraudster. Any reputable (even small) UK travel agent would be capable of accepting card transactions.

The claim of having your visa (and other documents) delivered to you at the airport seems to be a way of making you not realise the nature of the scam until the last moment. Any real visa will require involvement from you in the process, inclduing a trip to a visa fascilitation centre. You won't be able to board a plane to the UK without having a valid visa (or visa-exempt passport), so if the airport you were meant to receive this at was in the UK, then that is too late.

One of the other answers suggests that you may also be approached for additional money to "ease" the way through UK beaurocracy and officals. You should know that this is not the way things work in the UK. Officals are sufficently well paid that they do not need a steady stream of small bribes to support themselves, and the penalties for being involved in such behaviour are massive. This is not to say that there is no corruption in the UK, but it is either more subtle and not relevant to this process, or considerably out of the price range of anyone looking for employment.

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+1 for clarifying interview vs offer – Gayot Fow Jan 21 at 20:54

Obviously, it's a complete scam. Google for instant full details.

I was told that I can have a visitor visa to UK...

So the OP got a scam email on the level of "Nigerian investment".

OK, for anyone who's been on Mars for ten years, it's a scam.

It's really not worth all this ink.

Quite possibly the only-question OP is a scammer, and this is some sort of weird google-results-seeding-algorithm effort.

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This question, with all its "It's a scam" comments and answers, is now the top Google hit for searches such as "uk job wire funds for visa". I don't think that would be very good scammer tactics, unless the objective is to get rid of all applicants who use Google or StackExchange. – Patricia Shanahan Jan 22 at 4:56
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@PatriciaShanahan It could also a tactic to target the most gullible. Instead of answering the few replies from skeptics that later balk out before sending any cash, it's more economical to have those skeptics to never respond at all and spend more resources on the more gullible victim. – Martheen Jan 22 at 6:06
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@Martheen in other words, the objective is to get rid of applicants who use StackExchange and Google. – phoog Jan 22 at 10:11

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