Avoiding immigration scams is unfortunately one of the many hurdles that people must avoid when pursuing U.S. citizenship or residency. Immigration scams target immigrants from all backgrounds and ethnicities throughout various phases of the immigration process. Considering that the immigration process to the U.S. can take many years and involves many forms, there are many points in which scammers can take advantage of immigrants.
Immigration scams use a variety of methods. Typically they will involve exploiting paperwork, phishing for personal information, or using phone calls to get personal information.
Attorney Eric Price has spent years helping immigrants gain residency or U.S. citizenship. He is keenly familiar with the process and knows what to look out for when it comes to scams. If you want to go through the immigration process with peace of mind, or if you fear you may have been the victim of an immigration scam, contact Attorney Eric Price.
Common Immigration Scams
Immigration scams commonly take on the form of exploiting loopholes in paperwork or finding ways to steal personal information. Some scams will also lure hopeful immigrants with the false idea that there is an “easier” way to get citizenship, or that they have won some sort of visa lottery. These scammers will then make requests for funds to be transfered or for personal information to be handed over. Here is a list of the most common scams to be on the lookout for.
TPS Re-Registration Scams
Filing a TPS re-registration is a process that requires a payment to the USCIS. There may be individuals who claim they can file a TPS re-registration form for you. It is recommended you avoid unauthorized third parties who make such claims unless they are an accredited representative or an immigration attorney. When you are talking to a person regarding immigration, be sure to ask about their credentials and observe any certifications they may hold.
Immigration Scam In India
Some scammers will claim to be working out of the USCIS New Delhi field office. They may attempt to send you emails with attachments that could hold malicious spyware. You may receive an email that also includes claims that you are approved for a visa, and all you need to do is make a payment. When you are reading this email and you see links that lead to non-government websites, do not click those links. USCIS will not send you emails to update you, nor will they ask for payment to specific individuals.
Form I-9 Email Scams
Employers have found to be victims of scams or phishing attempts by people who will inquire for Form I-9 information. Employers are not required to furnish this information to USCIS, but are required to keep it on file for a certain period of time. If you are going to work and your employer brings up in conversation that they have been contacted by the USCIS, you should speak with your attorney to find out about the authenticity of this.
In most Spanish speaking countries, a Notarios Publicos is a powerful attorney with significant and unique legal abilities. However, in the US, a notary public is a government appointed individual who witnesses the signing of important documents and administers oaths.
If you are seeking legal advice and find a notary public in your area, be careful to not mistake them for a notarios publicos. Instead, you should seek out an immigraiton attorney. Alternatively, if someone approaches you claiming to be a Notarios Publicos in the US, you are likely being targeted for a scam and should report that individual to the Department of Justice.
Payments By Phone Or Email
A common tactic by scammers is to request payment via phone or email. These scammers will attempt to use money requests from Western Union, Moneygram, or cryptocurrency. The USCIS will never ask for payments via telephone or email. If you receive an email and the person is asking for a payment via any of the previously mentioned methods, do not submit that money to them.
Winning The Visa Lottery
Although there is a visa lottery program, it is managed by the State Department, not USCIS. If you receive a report that you have won the lottery program through USCIS, do not offer any information or payment. Scammers who use this approach attempt to grab onto your hope of finishing the immigration process quicker; however, there are no loopholes or shortcuts.
Some fake websites will pretend to be affiliated with the USCIS but will steal your information if you input it into their data fields. If you are browsing online for immigration information on government websites, make sure the website address ends in .gov. Some of these fake websites will also offer you access to government forms for a fee; however, USCIS has all the forms for free on the official government website.
It is best to be suspicious of companies offering you jobs via email if you have not yet arrived in the U.S. and are overseas. Some of these scams may offer payment to you for accepting the job. If you receive an email offering you a job and payment to accept it, you should ignore that email and report it to the USCIS.
Scams Targeting Students
For international students who are seeking an education in the U.S., make sure that the institution to which you are applying is accredited. Genuine higher education institutions can be confirmed using this government search engine.
Paying Money For Connections Or “Jumping The Line”
Some scammers will claim to be immigration experts and will offer you the opportunity to “jump the line” for a fee. There are no loopholes or exceptions to going through the proper immigration process. If someone is offering the opportunity to jump the line, you can report them to the Department of Justice. Additionally, you can review case processing times here on this government website.
Tips for Avoiding Immigration Scams
While there are a lot of scammers out there, knowing how to avoid immigration scams will help keep you secure and move through the process more efficiently. Be sure to never pay for government forms from a third party; the forms are generally found on government websites and are free. Make sure to hire a well-versed immigration attorney who can guide you through the steps. Also be sure to not give away your information to suspicious parties, or send money to a third party.
Never Pay for Blank Government Forms
These forms are always available for free from the government. If you are navigating the internet in search of information and you receive an email offering you access to the forms for a “small fee,” you are being scammed.
Don’t Let Anyone Keep your Original Documents
You should maintain the security of your own documents. You may encounter alleged “immigration specialists” who will offer to hold your documents for you. This is an attempt to steal your information and identity.
Never Sign a Form Before It’s Been Filled Out
When it comes to signing forms, this should be done with the guidance of your attorney. If someone approaches you and asks you to sign a form, and that they will “help you fill out the rest of the form later,” you should be suspicious of that request. A signed form without filled out information can be used to steal your data or personal information.
Keep a Copy of Every Form you Submit
Maintaining copies of your own records will help you in the event that you are the victim of a scam. If a scam occurs and is reported, you may be able to reverse part or all of the damage if an original or secondary copy is maintained and presented to USCIS.
Keep All Receipts for USCIS
Along with documents and forms, be sure to retain all receipts from the USCIS. Payments will be necessary at certain points; after you make a payment, be sure to hold on to the receipt and make a copy of it.
Reporting Immigration Scams
If you receive a suspicious email or find a suspicious website that you suspect is a scam, be sure to report it to USCIS.Webmaster@uscis.dhs.gov. If it turns out that the information is not a scam, you will be informed and the USCIS will confirm the authenticity of the information.
Depending on the state you are in, there will be different offices and points of contact for you to report scams. The USCIS has compiled a list available here for you to report immigration scams.
Additionally, if you discover that money or property has been stolen from you, be sure to report it to the local police as well. After the report is made, ask for a case number and copy of the investigative report if it’s available, be sure to share that information with your attorney.
Contact Attorney Price Today!
If you are looking to get through the immigraiton process without fear of being scammed or exploited, contact Attorney Eric Price today. With years of experience handling over 1,000 immigration cases, he has seen the diverse and complex circumstances that immigrants face. Attorney Price is available at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-662-2772.