Wherever there are people that need help and are willing to spend money to get it, there are unfortunately scam artists who will try to con these people out of their money to make a quick buck. In the realm of immigration issues and cases, this type of fraud can be particularly distressing and alarming, as people may be spending money they don’t really have to try to get help with their most sensitive and important immigration matters – like, for instance, trying to get their family into the U.S.
The good news is that, with a little bit of knowledge, you can spot the signs of immigration fraud and avoid becoming the victim of these scams.
Here, we will highlight 7 tips that help you identify immigration scams. While you are encouraged to report such scams to the police, for real, effective help with your immigration affairs, contact the Hanlon Law Group.
Tip 1: Don’t pay for immigration forms.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) never charges for any of its forms. In fact, these forms are available for free at the USCIS website. If you are being asked to pay a fee by a service that is claiming to be able to help you with your immigration case, do NOT work with that service. Charging you for forms that are free is a huge red flag that this service or business is trying to scam you out of money, rather than help you with your case.
Tip 2: Always thoroughly read forms before signing them.
Whenever you have been asked to sign a form, make sure you fully read that form so that you know what you are signing. Your signature can provide powerful legal authorization to a person or a business, and if you end up signing a form that isn’t properly completed, you may even inadvertently perjure yourself (which could cause your immigration application or petition to be denied).
Additionally, in the spirit of this tip, never sign a blank form, as that could give a scam artist or fraudulent business the opportunity to complete the form with erroneous information on your behalf, again only hurting your case.
Tip 3: Be weary of services that require you to pay cash.
The USCIS does NOT accept cash for filing fees. It only accepts money orders, credit cards or certified checks. Therefore, if you are being asked by a service or person to provide cash in order to file your forms with the USCIS, do NOT trust this business or person. This is likely a sign that you are dealing with an immigration fraud scam.
Tip 4: Double check the person’s stated credentials.
Always double check the person’s (or business’) credentials with the appropriate agency. A good place to start is the Better Business Bureau.
If you are working with someone who has told you that he or she is a lawyer, then double check that the person is, in fact, licensed to practice immigration law in your state (you can check with your state’s bar association, which will also keep records of whether a person has had any official censures filed against him).
Alternatively, if you are working with a non-attorney, make sure the individual you are working with is recognized by the Department of Justice’s Board of Immigration Appeals.
If, after checking with these agencies, you find out that a person doesn’t have the licenses or credentials that he has claimed to possess, then you are likely dealing with someone who is trying to pull an immigration fraud scam on you, and you should not deal with this person any longer.
Tip 5: Keep copies of all of your paperwork.
Never hand over all of your important immigration documents to someone without retaining copies for yourself. If you are told by a person or business that you don’t need to make copies, take this as a huge red flag that you are likely interacting with a con artist who is trying to take your money and/or steal your identity.
Tip 6: Get a second opinion.
If you ever have a question about what a so-called professional has told you or you think that you may have been given bad advice, it’s always a smart idea to get a second opinion. Reputable professionals who are interested in helping you will generally provide you with preliminary advice about your case for free and can help you figure out if you may be in the crosshairs of an immigration fraud scam.
Los Angeles, California Immigration Lawyers at the Hanlon Law Group, P.C.
At the Hanlon Law Group, P.C., our Los Angeles immigration attorney have more than 15 years of experience successfully representing clients in various types of immigration cases, including those that involve the most basic immigration applications to those associated with extremely complicated federal court litigation.
Our firm offers state-of-the art technology to deliver these services efficiently while also providing each of our clients with old-fashioned personal service. That means you can count on your case progressing as quickly as possible while feeling confident that your Hanlon Law Group lawyer will answer your questions quickly, clearly and honestly.
Let’s Talk about Your Case
To learn more about our citizenship, immigration and deportation defense services contact our Los Angeles immigration attorneys today by calling (626) 684-3712 or (866) 227-5527 or by emailing us using the form at the upper right-hand side of the screen. From our office in Pasadena, we serve clients throughout the Los Angeles area, across the state of California and from around the world.
We offer free, confidential initial consultations to provide potential clients with expert advice regarding their immigration law needs. Additionally, we are able to provide immigration legal services in various languages, including in Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Bahasa Indonesian, Tagalog and Fukienese.