How to Avoid Immigration Scams
Immigration scams target people who want to come to the United States and live here. In many cases, scams against immigrants ask for money or personal information. If fraudsters get your personal information, they can use it to steal your identity and open accounts in your name, which can hurt your credit rating. In some cases, criminals are persuasive enough to also defraud individuals of thousands of dollars.
Avoiding Immigration Scams
Start by getting familiar with the most common scams, which include:
- Scams asking you to pay money. Scammers may contact you to tell you to pay for visa processing, TPS reregistration, a student visa or other processes. In some cases, you may be told you are being awarded a visa through a program and only need to pay to receive it. Always check that any emails allegedly from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) end in .gov. You can see whether the offer is genuine by contacting USCIS directly and by checking to see how the specific visa or offer is awarded. Keep in mind USCIS will never ask you to send money to an individual or ask you to pay via PayPal, phone, email, Western Union, gift cards, cryptocurrency or MoneyGram.
- Online and phone scams asking for your personal information. If you are asked to submit Forms I-9 to USCIS, contact the Federal Trade Commission and USCIS. If you receive a call asking for personal information, contact USCIS directly by calling them yourself to see whether they do need this information.
- Notarios públicos. While in many Latin American countries a notario publico is an attorney, in the United States a notary public cannot provide immigration legal services or legal advice.
- Fake government websites. Be alert for websites that claim to be affiliates of USCIS or the United States government and ask you to pay money to download or to get help with forms. Immigration forms and instructions are available at no cost from uscis.gov.
- Fake job offers. Some immigrants are asked to pay money for job offers they may not qualify for because they do not have a green card or visa authorizing them to work in the United States.
Once you know and can spot the most common types of fraud, you will be poised to avoid them. You can also avoid immigration legal scams by getting to know the system. Use uscis.gov to find out how to apply for the immigration program you need, and always contact uscis.gov if you have any questions.
If you need an immigration attorney, make sure you use someone who is authorized to work in Texas. Morales & Sparks is an experienced law firm, and attorney Julie Sparks specializes in immigration law. She can represent clients in hearings or offer legal advice, and she has a reputation for being able to find details that can make difficult cases winnable. Contact Morales & Sparks for a consultation to discuss your immigration concerns.