Avoid Common Immigration Scams

Applying for visas, adjusting immigration status, or dealing with other immigration matters can be complicated and overwhelming. There are a number of businesses and people offering to help with these services, but individuals must be careful to avoid those who are looking to take advantage of you for their own financial gain. Below are some tips to help you avoid some common immigration scams.

Get Help From Someone Authorized to Provide Legal Advice

There are a number of people or businesses that will offer to assist individuals in need of immigration services. “Notarios,” notary publics or immigration consultants, are not authorized to provide legal advice or represent individuals before USCIS. In other countries, the word “notario” means attorney, but this is not the case in the United States. The only people who may represent you before USCIS or provide legal advice on these matters are attorneys, non-attorney representatives who are accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals, and law students/graduates who are being supervised by an eligible attorney or accredited representative.

You should never sign a form that is blank, contains false information, is incomplete, or that you do not understand. You should also not have to pay for blank USCIS forms as they are available for free online. You should avoid non-governmental websites, businesses, or people offering to provide help that sounds too good to be true. A qualified attorney or BIA accredited representative will be able to help you answer questions on forms, give you legal advice about which forms you need to submit, advise you of your options, communicate with USCIS about the status of your case, and provide a realistic timetable for the process.

Do Not Pay for Immigration Services Over the Phone or Via Email/Website

The USCIS has put together a list of common immigration scams, which can be found here. Among these scams are people posing as government officials over the phone and asking for personal information (i.e. Social Security number, passport number, etc). These scammers will usually identify a false issue with your immigration record and ask for payment to resolve the issue. You should never give your credit card information over the phone to someone posing as a USCIS or government official.

Another common scam deals with the Visa Lottery. The Visa Lottery is a program overseen by the Department of State, which makes 50,000 diversity visas available through a random selection process. In order to be part of the lottery, one must meet strict eligibility requirements, come from a country with low rates of immigration to the United States, and complete an official government application. Websites or emails promising to improve your chances in the lottery or identifying you as a winner are fraudulent and you should not pay for these services.

Consult with an Attorney

Getting assistance from the wrong person can have serious consequences, such as delaying your application, costing you unnecessary fees, or leading to removal proceedings. Protect yourself from immigration scams and consult with a qualified immigration attorney today. Contact our skilled Savannah immigration attorneys at 1Georgia Injury Lawyers, PLLC to learn your options. We serve many areas, including Savannah and Macon.