Kurdistan warns travelers that some tourism agencies are selling fake European visas

KRG Interior Minister Rebar Ahmed speaks at a press conference in Erbil, April 11, 2021. (Photo: Kurdistan 24)
KRG Interior Minister Rebar Ahmed speaks at a press conference in Erbil, April 11, 2021. (Photo: Kurdistan 24)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) warned travelers on Sunday that some tourism companies operating in the autonomous region of Iraq have been issuing counterfeit Schengen visas, the travel document required to enter most European countries, leading to the arrest of their unwitting customers. 

The remarks by regional Interior Minister Rebar Ahmed came during a press conference held in Erbil following a meeting with the Kurdistan Region Parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee, a significant portion of which was dedicated to the issue.

“A great number of people have been arrested at airports” after arriving in various European nations with the forged visas in their passports.

Back in the Kurdistan Region, he added, local security forces have also arrested multiple suspects they accuse of taking part in the scam, but few additional details have so far been made public.

The interior minister also urged its citizens to use increased scrutiny when choosing a travel agency to confirm it is authorized to issue Schengen and other visas, as well as making sure any visas they have already received are authentic before attempting to enter another country.

Kurdistan Region authorities, concluded Ahmed, are working in cooperation with other governments to put an end to the fraudulent practice and the legal danger that can result for travelers who believe their visas are bona fide.

Due to significant barriers that make it difficult for an Iraqi passport holder to obtain foreign visas – Schengen visas notable among them – Iraqi nationals often attempt various alternate means through tourism agencies, leaving them especially vulnerable to deceptive practices.

According to the online information site Passport Index, Iraqi nationals are at an extreme disadvantage in this regard when compared to would-be travelers from nearly any other.

Read More: Iraq, Afghanistan the worst passports for travel, Japan the best: Index

Currently, only the two small Caribbean nations of Haiti and Dominica offer free entry to Iraqi passport holders, while 167 other countries require visas that are, in practice, extremely difficult or impossible to obtain.

Editing by John J. Catherine