February 14, 2019 Lisa Aspeling

How to Avoid Dodgy Immigration Agents

Another piece of content marketing that doubles up as a media release for our client Move Up.

Sihouette of young family and airplane

While it’s essential to choose an immigration agency that handles visa and passport applications both professionally and efficiently, with so many options out there how can you know who you can trust?

Here are 10 tips to help you choose a reputable consultancy that best suits your needs:

1. Just Ask

Ryan Rennison, managing director of United Kingdom (UK) visa solutions experts, Move Up, says your first port of call is to ask friends and family about their experiences, “Social media is an amazing tool for polling your networks for their recommendations of which companies do a good job – with a smile – and those you should steer clear of. The chances are if your neighbour, cousin or colleague had a positive experience with an immigration expert, you’ll have one too,” says Rennison.

2. Google Reviews

Marketers will tell you, nothing beats word of mouth when it comes to endorsements – and criticisms. When you’re doing online research, make sure you read your prospective immigration agency’s Google Reviews for unadulterated, first-hand opinions from people in the know.

3. Social Media

If Google uses companies’ social media presence to rate their relevance and legitimacy, then you should too. Take a look at your prospective immigration agency’s social media platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) to check whether they are up to date. An inactive, empty or missing page may be a sign that the company is ‘fronting’ and not to be trusted.

4. Lawyer or Agency?

Avoid unnecessary costs by finding out exactly which services you require. Immigration lawyers are best suited to complex immigration cases and often charge higher fees, while a straightforward visa or passport application can easily be managed by a reputable and experienced immigration consultancy. If you’re exploring moving to the UK, try this free birth certificate evaluation to see if you qualify for an ancestral visa or British passport.

5. Get Quotes

Make sure you compare immigration consultants’ fee structures to get an idea of the range of pricing out there. While some agencies are cagey about telling you how much of what you’re paying goes straight into their pockets, there are agencies that freely publish their fees on their websites.

On the flipside, remember that too-good-to-be-true fees are usually just that! While the offers from less reputable agencies can have hidden Ts and Cs, some trustworthy companies like Move Up offer a solid fees-back guarantee: if your visa application is not successful, they promise to refund your fee in full.

6. Ancient History

Not always, but usually the best immigration agencies have been around for many years. Look at the company’s track record. Are the employees experienced? Does the person heading up the organisation have a solid reputation? Can you get in touch with them easily if something goes wrong? Don’t be shy to ask for contactable references if you’re still unsure.

7. Security

Good agencies will have policies and procedures in place that help give you peace of mind when it comes to handling and storing sensitive, personal information.

For secure online payments, make sure their website URL begins with ‘https’. The ‘s’ means the website is secure and will safely process any credit card transactions you initiate.

8. Governing Body

Unfortunately, the industry doesn’t yet have a governing body or regulator to assist consumers with avoiding rogue immigration agencies. Few governments have the capacity to regulate other countries’ immigration agencies, which means it’s up to you to scrutinise your options.

9. Background Check

Relocating to a new country can sometimes involve paying hundreds of thousands of rands in fees to your future government. If you’re nervous about parting with a large sum of cash, there are companies that offer background checks (on individuals and companies) for your peace of mind.

10. The Gut Test

Once you’ve gathered all the information you need, trusting your intuition is the next step forward.


The UK is a favourite destination for South Africans choosing to emigrate. Find out which UK visas you may be eligible for by completing this free online visa assessment from Move Up.



Media Exposure

Cape Town Etc – Choosing an Immigration Agency

All 4 Women – Emigrating? Do you qualify for an ancestral British visa? Find out here

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