U.S. Embassy warns against visa booking sites
The U.S. Embassy in Samoa is warning members of the public against using websites that claim to offer applicants a chance to book visas online for a fee.
In a public notice issued on Friday, the Office said visa applicants applying at the U.S. Embassy in Apia must not under any circumstances pay any visa fees online.
“It has come to the attention of the Embassy that there are websites claiming to be able to complete your DS-160 and book an appointment for you online after you pay the visa fee,” the notice warned.
The Embassy is now monitoring the issue and may consider launching an investigation as more information is collected.
All visa fees must be paid in cash at the Embassy on the day of interview, the Embassy said.
The Embassy told the Samoa Observer it has not received complaints per se, but have heard from several applicants they have already paid their visa fee online and have produced e-receipt.
“This, however, is of no practical use for payment at Embassy Apia as the only way payment can be accepted is to pay the Embassy cashier with cash on the day of the visa interview,” said the Embassy.
The office said it was “refraining from calling this a scam” based on the information they have obtained at this stage.
“In some countries United States visa fees are paid off-site at a contractor, but in Samoa the U.S. Embassy has not contracted with anyone to collect payment," the Embassy said.
"[The Apia Embassy] has advised the people who have already paid the fee online to request a refund."
Members of the public who wishes to apply for visa are being advised to go directly to the U.S. Embassy website to learn more https://ws.usembassy.gov/visas/tourism-visitor/.
Online visa payment services are not available in Samoa.