Watch Out for Immigration Scams

Immigration Scams By Jane Cowley mmigration services scams are a serious national problem. They exploit the vulnerability of immigrants, refugees, foreign students and others, including U.S. citizens.

Combating immigration services scams is a priority for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). All employees of USCIS work to educate and warn applicants about immigration scams and ensure that applicants know how to find qualified legal advice and assistance in completing and submitting forms to USCIS.

An example of an immigration scam is a recently uncovered telephone scam targeting USCIS applicants and petitioners. The scammers posed as USCIS officials and requested personal information, such as social security, passport, or alien registration numbers, identified supposed issues in the recipients’ immigration records, and asked for payment to correct these records.

USCIS never asks for any form of payment or personal information over the phone. If you receive a call claiming, or even appearing, to be from USCIS and requesting payment over the phone with a deportation threat, hang up immediately and contact USCIS at 1-800-375-5283. NEVER give payment or personal information over the phone to anyone who claims to be a USCIS official.

Another example of a scam to watch out for comes from people identifying themselves as “notario públicos.” In many Latin American countries, the term “notario público” (Spanish for “public notary”) are powerful attorneys with special legal credentials. In the U.S., however, public notaries are people who perform duties such as witnessing the signing of documents. Being a “notario público” in the U.S. does not authorize someone to provide you with any legal services related to immigration.

Suggestions forProtection:

· Safeguard your personal information, including alien registration numbers. Your A-number is as important to protect as a social security number.

Research where you go for help. Only use professionals that are authorized in the U.S. to provide legal immigration advice, either an attorney in good standing or a Board of Immigration Appeals accredited representative.

Use dot-gov websites for information. Official U.S. government websites is the main source of information on immigration services and benefits. Learn more at

Do not pay for blank USCIS forms either in person or on the Internet. Forms are free and can be downloaded at ·

Do not sign blank USCIS application or petitions forms. Understand the information and application process prior to signing forms and paying for any service. ·

Be extra careful about scammers during tax season, especially if a tax preparer offers to also help you prepare and file your immigration forms. They may not be authorized to assist you with immigration services. In some cases, you could become a victim of a scam. Scammers may tell you wrong information about filing your tax returns and how that relates to your eligibility for certain immigration benefits. They could then use your personal information to steal your refund and your identity.

By Jane Cowley

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Eric Nzeribe