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I'll try to keep this short. I spent the last few hours looking up the nature of the so called dummy tickets, and I could not get a direct answer to one question I had. Is it just a document I pay for to save on flight tickets? From what I learned, you basically pay a website like Visa Reservation 50 bucks, and they allow you to write whatever information you want on a document before emailing it to you. If the visa gets denied for something that isn't related to the itinerary, you don't get any refunds. If you do get accepted, you go pay the full price for an actual plane ticket and accommodation etc. Is that the gist of it?

So, in order to not pay the full price of plane tickets, I pay for a document from a website that says I'm getting a ticket. Then I either pay the full amount to the airline company + hotels anyway, or I get denied and the upside is that I only spent 50 bucks on this document instead of a plane ticket?

TLDR: Are these itinerary services just (still somewhat costly) safety nets? Their whole purpose is an insurance that makes you pay a fee before your visa so you don't lose out on more if you're denied? (And if you're accepted you just spent that extra 50 bucks to be safe before actual reservations).

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    They're probably best described as "services that will help you lie to the consulate, for a price". For obvious reasons the services themselves prefer to describe themselves in less honest terms. – Henning Makholm Jan 8 at 16:07
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    Which can also be translated as "services who's services will guarantee you get barred from the country you wish to visit for a long, long, time, if you get caught using them" – Mawg Jan 10 at 15:12
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Some countries demand to see paid reservations before they will even consider issuing a visa. You could buy refundable reservations, but these are often very expensive. Or you could pay someone a small amount of money to lie and say you bought something. You will not get your "lie money" back. Once you have your visa, you can then buy cheaper nonrefundable reservations knowing you're able to go.

I don't think using such a service is a good idea. It involves lying in writing, and paying someone else to participate in your lie. I would not be ok giving personal details like my passport number to someone like that. Who knows what other ways they might decide to make money?

  • in fact, here's an interesting wrinkle in the situation. Even though the UK does not require you to prebook tickets, at least one "we'll help you lie" site claims that they do, and that you therefore require their services. I should not be surprised that an organization that exists to help you lie might lie to you, I suppose. That's the thing: trusting such a site is inherently risky and not something I would recommend at all.

A safer and more honest approach is to first check whether you in fact need either plane tickets or a hotel reservation. If you do, buy the expensive fully-refundable thing, and refund it even if you get the visa; then buy the cheaper nonrefundable one. It requires you to invest the initial nonrefundable price, but there is no lying and no chance of you committing fraud or some other crime, nor doing business with lying fraudsters who know your personal details.

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    it's not really more costly. You spend $1000, then refund it and spend $300 for real. all you lose is interest on the $1000. That's going to be less than $50. – Kate Gregory Jan 8 at 18:20
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    @LanceConnor: One obvious thing to take into account is to research whether the consulate you're applying to actually requires paid tickets for a visa application. Many don't, but there's a lot of depressing rumors in circulation that can give one the impression that all countries has such a (pointless) rule. – Henning Makholm Jan 8 at 18:39
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    @LanceConnor: What makes you think "that rule definitely applies" for the UK? To the contrary, the official guidance from gov.uk explicitly lists flight bookings and hotel bookings as "documents you should not send unless specifically requested". – Henning Makholm Jan 8 at 18:54
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    @LanceConnor: See also gov.uk/government/news/… ("We take this opportunity to remind applicants that UKVI does not require a flight booking or tickets to be submitted with a visa application. Our online guidance clearly advises customers not to make payments or travel reservations until a visa decision has been received") and in general travel.stackexchange.com/questions/115470/… – Henning Makholm Jan 8 at 19:01
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    @DJClayworth why? What would make them go out of business? Loss of repeat customers? LOL! Networking among your customer base? That doesn't matter because any community sufficiently large to have 1 informed person will say "don't buy these in the first place"... so by definition their clientele are un-educated. This is the perfect business for drive-by swindles like that. – Harper Jan 9 at 0:37
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Metrics easily abused are quickly disused

There's a reason UK and many countries no longer want to see your proof of airline ticket: because they are so easily faked, using websites just like this one.

There are hustlers who will get you fake documents of several kinds. Need a British sponsor? They know a guy who knows a guy. Fake bank accounts? Not a problem. Every one of them will tell you that you need those documents to improve your application. They make money when you buy those documents, and therefore have every incentive to lie to you about this.

Anyway, once Immigration realizes that an analysis metric they used to use is so easily faked, it stops being helpful and they don't want it anymore.

What's more, people have an unfortunate habit of getting their info from search engines, and in your haste, that's exactly what you did. Search engines are computer algorithms that smart people can fool. Doing this is called SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. So you have

  • an army of swindlers all aggressively SEO'ing content which claims you need the documents they sell
  • burying content from the government, who is not doing any SEO whatsoever
  • secondary news sources who write articles on subjects, do lazy research with search engines, and presume search engines are always correct. * ...and they do SEO on those.

Don't bother buying any sort of fake "proofs"

One of the great conceits of the novice traveler is that he is more clever than the government, and can "pull one over on the gov't". Such a great fantasy, isn't it? Laugh and recognize that for what it is. Fantasy.

Immigration sees a lot of applicants. They see the patterns that you don't realize are patterns. Your company with the travel documents, they see 100 a day and they know they're fake.

This will apply to basically anything you can easily do to fake credibility. Presenting it will backfire.


* Often these articles are actually for "article marketing" / "content marketing", and is written specifically to put adverts on it, without giving a damn for quality. If you ever see articles where you're 6 paragraphs in and it doesn't seen like they've really said anything, but have repeated some keywords a few times, you're reading one of those.

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    Don't bother with proofs you can easily buy" is not the right advice. Just because I think I can easily fake a bank statement doesn't mean it's OK to apply without one. The right advice would be to check which proofs are officially required, and provide those. – Dmitry Grigoryev Jan 9 at 12:08
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    This answer is so important, because it's not only correct and relevant to this particular question, but fundamentally the perfect guide for navigating the 2018 www more generally. Everybody with an internet connection should read and understand this. Simply searching is not enough. Do proper research, consult authorities, and double-check things! It's fascinating to me how institutionalised word-of-mouth has become, when verifiable information is just a click away. (As you can probably imagine, we see it a lot on Stack Overflow and it's kind of ruining our industry.) – Lightness Races in Orbit Jan 9 at 15:35
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    @DmitryGrigoryev You seem to have misunderstood. A fake bank statement that you can easily buy is also a fake bank statement that the visa people can easily see is fake. The fact that you can easily buy fake bank statements doesn't mean that you shouldn't use real bank statements, where they're required. Real bank statements are not easily bought! – David Richerby Jan 9 at 16:07
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    @DmitryGrigoryev If you can find it easily, you can bet the authorities already know about it. Partly because they were looking for it, too, and partly because so many other people have found the supplier and are using their fake documents to try to get visas. – David Richerby Jan 9 at 16:18
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    @DmitryGrigoryev Again, you have misunderstood. "Don't bother with proofs that you can easily buy" means "Something that you easily bought won't prove anything", not "If the consulate asks for a document, ignore the request if that document is easily faked." – David Richerby Jan 9 at 16:23

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