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Basic Travel Allowance from South Africa to USA. Have dual…

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Basic Travel Allowance from...

Basic Travel Allowance from South Africa to USA. Have dual citizenship for Mexico and USA. Traveling on Mexico Passport.

Lawyer's Assistant: What is your official status? Do you have any pending applications or petitions with USCIS?

No

Lawyer's Assistant: Have you talked to a lawyer yet?

No

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

Being told by Immigration at airport in Johannesburg to pay the Basic Travel Allowance or can't fly.

Submitted: 4 months ago.Category: Immigration Law
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Answered in 5 minutes by:
11/24/2017
Immigration Lawyer: Zoey, JD, Lawyer replied 4 months ago
Zoey, JD
Zoey, JD, Lawyer
Category: Immigration Law
Satisfied Customers: 30,005
Experience: 18 years of criminal litigation experience.
Verified

Hi,

I'm Zoey.

I've reviewed your post. Please be patient as I may need to research for you, and it also takes time to compose and type a reply.

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Immigration Lawyer: Zoey, JD, Lawyer replied 4 months ago

I'm sorry to tell you that your online romance is a scammer. There is no such thing as a BTA. It is a ruse you only find in online romance scams. It sounds sensible enough so that you want to believe it, but it's just a means of getting a couple thousand dollars from you. And then, she's not even going to get on the plane.

The scam is so popular that the US government warns against this on the Department of State website. Their warning says this:

"Beware of anyone who requests funds for a BTA, or Basic Travel Allowance, as a requirement to depart another country for the United States. There is no such thing as a BTA. In other cases, your Internet friend will claim to need a travel allowance, or travel money, to be able to travel to the United States. Again, there is no such requirement under U.S. law."

This woman is a scammer. She has asked you for the something that the US government warns that means she is a fraud. Don't send her any more money. She won't be on the plane. She will have an emergency such as a so-called arrest at Customs or an accident en route to the airport for which you will be asked to pay even more money and she'll never get an inch closer to the plane.

Cease all contact with her. She is not who, what or where she says she is. She's a group of thieves, generally teenage boys, hiding behind the photo of a sexy woman and a fake profile and looking only to steal your money.Report your scammer to your police, the FBI at IC3.gov and to the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov

I know that you would rather believe her rather than me or the US government. So if you have photos of her that you can upload to this question thread and documents she has sent you, I will be happy to look them over and show you that they are fake.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
the idea that my friends might be blackmailed is not a consideration? I have found these same comments that you right. I was looking for more than this.
Immigration Lawyer: Zoey, JD, Lawyer replied 4 months ago

Sorry but there's no blackmail here. If you google "Basic Travel Allowance" you'll see nothing but scam warnings. The reason that everyone is saying what you've heard is that it's true. Here's the quote I gave you which is on the US Government's own website.

I already offered to look over photos and documents that you have gotten from her. If you are really looking for more, then please upload any pictures and documents she has sent you, so that I can check out whether they are fake.

The BTA, however IS fake. Even the US government says so and it doesn't get more official than that.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
There was not an offer to review documents. I will not any further services from you. I already had these answers and want a legal opinion.
Immigration Lawyer: Zoey, JD, Lawyer replied 4 months ago

You've got a legal opinion. I've been practicing law since I passed the bar in 1989. I also did offer to look over photos and documents. It's the in the last two sentences I wrote on my full reply to this thread.

However, I'll be happy to opt out of this question so that you can get another opinion from another lawyer.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Thank you for your time. I ultimately want to look at the possibility of the immigration scamming also.
Immigration Lawyer: Judith Ludwic, Immigration Lawyer replied 4 months ago
Judith Ludwic
Judith Ludwic, Immigration Lawyer
Category: Immigration Law
Satisfied Customers: 29,502
Experience: 34 years as practicing immigration attorney, with non-immigrant and immigrant visa experience.
Verified

Sir, that is a very unfair reply to my colleague suggesting she is immigration scamming!

http://ghana.usembassy.gov/romance_scam.html

We work hard, we have professional licenses at stake. Your Ghanaian love interest is using you. You will see. And the funny part is you are most likely communicating with a MAN!!!!!!!!!

Judith Ludwic

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Judith,This is the perfect example of the issue I have raised. The question I had was not regarding the immigration lawyer scamming but rather the Immigration service itself. And the country is South Africa, not Ghandi and I am a woman not a man (never stated either in my original questions). I was able myself to find information online that has been provided by you and your colleague. That is my issue.
Immigration Lawyer: Judith Ludwic, Immigration Lawyer replied 4 months ago

First, I want to thank you and tell you I appreciate your clarification that you were not suggesting JA or the expert of scamming. We truly do this to help people.

Your gentleman friend as a US citizen can contact the US Embassy Citizen Services and tell them they are being held hostage and not allowed to leave SA. That is the job of consular officers, to be of assistance to it's citizens in foreign countries.

https://za.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/

It doesn't matter what country they tell you they are from. This is organized crime which generally originates in West Africa. The communications are generally initiated by some gender other than the person being scammed it is men who have these organized networks and they pull off pictures from the internet and say they are the ones in love with you.

If you are saying that the immigration service in the country is demanding $ it is not. Again, they create paper, phone calls, IMs, chat to saying they are from immigration but they are only part of the organized crime network and it is not a t from the government.

So if you think it is an immigration officer from Joburg making the demand it is not.

This is my legal opinion, but you can easily enough call the Home Affairs office and ask them if SA demands BTA:

For residents of Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia:

The South African Consulate General in New York City
Attention: Home Affairs Section
333 East 38th Street, 9th Floor
New York NY 10016
Tel:(###) ###-####br />Fax:(###) ###-####br />Email: *****@******.***
Website: http://www.southafrica-newyork.net/consulate

Visa, Immigration and Passport Sections are open for applications and inquiries from Monday to Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 pm only.

For residents of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin:

The South African Consulate General in Chicago
Attention: Home Affairs Section
200 South Michigan Avenue, 6th Floor
Chicago IL 60604
Tel.(###) ###-####br />Fax:(###) ###-####br />Email: *****@******.***
Website: www.southafricachicago.com

For residents of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming:

The South African Consulate General in Los Angeles
Attention: Home Affairs Section***** Suite 600
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Tel.(###) ###-####br />Fax:(###) ###-####br />Email: *****@******.***
Website: www.dirco.gov.za/losangeles/

For residents of Alabama, District of Colombia, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Texas, Virginia, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands:

The South African Embassy in Washington, DC*****NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel:(###) ###-####br />Fax:(###) ###-####br />Email: *****@******.***
Website: http://www.saembassy.org

It will be easier to reach a human at one of the consulates above than calling the Embassy in WDC.

If they still do not convince you, pay the BTA and then this is most likely what will happen:

They pull at your heartstrings by telling stories of hardship or tragedy that they have suffered in their life. At some point they want to come visit. They may ask you to send money for a passport and/or plane ticket. They may tell you that they have money, perhaps even that they are wealthy, but their money is tied up in gold or something like that, perhaps they tie it into a tragedy or something. Then the next step is when they supposedly have the passport and plane ticket, they suddenly come up with this Basic Travel Allowance or (BTA) which is supposedly to show authorities that they have enough money to fund their trip. This is a lie. There is no such thing. They ask you to send that money so they can put it into a bank account to show the authorities. This is just another method to steal money from you. Then the next part of the scam would be when they are supposed to arrive. You wait for them at the airport and they never show up. A few days go by, you get extremely worried, none of your methods of communication work, and then suddenly a "friend" or "relative" of the scammer contacts you to let you know that she has been detained/arrested by authorities for carrying something illegal, I have heard of unregistered gold and they say it would have been a gift for you (perhaps to pay you back for the money you sent). The friend or relative of the scammer then asks for you to send money to bribe or pay fines in order to have the scammer released. From there, I have not heard of how else they are able to get money out of people. Of course there are variations to the scheme, but that's pretty much how it goes.

I will gladly offer to review the documents for you. Specifically I want to see a copy of their US visa. I can tell in a heartbeat if it is a visa created with software or if it is a genuine visa foil issued by the US.

And in fact, I am going to offer to do this for you at a 50% discount of what I generally charge for document review because I hate to see people hurt, trust me we are not in this for the money. I cannot even know your name or personal contact info unless you accept the offer and then a special box appears where I give you my personal email and only you and I see this.

I'm here if you need me but if our legal opinions above are not satisfactory then my legal opinion on the bona fides of the visa should help. There are certain characteristics on the visa foil that only an experienced immigration lawyer or a consular officer would be able to spot.

Judith

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