When it comes to scams, immigrants are commonly preyed upon by scammers and con artists because their victims lack the needed information to see through their scamming acts and other times, the victims feel that they cannot reach out to law enforcement for help.
Scammers are always seeking a way in which they can make a few extra dollars from their victims by making false promises, giving false hope, or instilling the fear of deportation in order to manipulate their victims into giving out their hard-earned cash for bogus services.
We’ve highlighted four immigration scams you need to be aware of below:
- Paying for U.S. Immigration Forms
When you are applying to immigrate to the U.S., it is vital to know that all the forms you would ever need for the process are provided for you free of charge without any cost by the Department of Homeland Security. Scammers have designed several websites to look like they have an affiliation with the Department of Homeland Security. Don’t be fooled and most importantly don’t be scammed by paying for any fee to download free forms that you can easily find at www.uscis.gov.
This is separate from a hired attorney charging a fee to help you fill out and submit the paperwork for you.
- Paying Fees Over The Phone
Several immigrants are unaware that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will never ask for payment of fees over the phone. Scammers often target immigrants via phone requesting the unsuspecting victim to pay a fee over the phone or risk deportation.
Immigrants are never called via the phone to make any payment or asked to give out further details about themselves.
Immigration fees are paid online through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website. Always verify that you are on the correct website – it should end in “.gov” and not “.com”, “.org” or any other URL ending.
Also, not all immigration visas require a payment and a family member, friend, employer, attorney, or other accredited representative can make the payment for you.
- Hiring a Notario Publico
A Notary Public in the U.S. is different from a Notario Publico found in various Latin American Countries. In the U.S., a Notary Public is an individual who witnesses the signing of documents but does not provide any form of legal advice. A Notary Public in the US cannot provide legal advice or legal services – that is why their fees are often meager.
Do not fall into the scam of paying a non-attorney to prepare and authorize immigration forms which you can get for free on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website.
- Getting An Email Stating That You’ve Won A Green Card Lottery.
The Green Card Lottery enables 50,000 immigrants to get visas each year. The benefactors are chosen randomly from a pool of applicants. The benefactors will not receive an email that notifies them that they are winners of a green card lottery. Notifications are only mailed to applicants.
Scammers utilize the belief that everything is done electronically these days this by sending out emails to unsuspecting victims, stating they’ve won the lottery and they need to complete the process by going to a fake website stated in the email. This website may seek payment or to gather your personal information.
Immigrants have a role to play to avoid in being scammed – their role is to be diligent to not fall for scams like this listed above. Always visit www.uscis.gov for all your queries or reach out to an immigration lawyer for assistance.