In our last post, we shared some tips for avoiding immigration scams.
Today, we are going to share with you common immigration scams, according to the official website of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), www.uscis.gov, so you know what types of situation to avoid.
- Telephone Scams. If someone calls you claiming to be a USCIS personnel or any government official, be wary, especially if they are asking for details such as personal information (Passport number, Social Security number). Scammers will also claim that there are problems with your immigration record and ask for payment to fix these problems. Do not ever provide credit card information over the phone. USCIS will not call to ask for payment over the phone.
- Notario Publico. A Notario Publico (notary public) has different roles in the U.S. and in most Latin American countries. In Spanish-speaking nations, notarios are attorneys with special legal credentials. In the U.S., a notary public is someone appointed by state governments to witness the signing of important documents and administer oaths. They are not authorized to provide immigration-related services.
- Local Businesses. Some businesses claim to specialize in getting you a visa, green card or employment authorization document. Often, they claim that they can do this faster than USCIS. According to USCIS, these claims are false.
- Unofficial websites. As mentioned earlier, USCIS has an official website—www.uscis.gov. If you come upon a dot-com website, know that it is not affiliated with USCIS. Do not pay for blank USCIS forms you find on the Internet. Downloading forms via the official website is free.
- Visa Lottery. Once every year, the Department of State (DOS) makes 50,000 diversity visas (DVs) available via random selection. Only those who meet the strict eligibility requirements and who come from countries with low immigration rates are qualified. Scammers normally take advantage of this time to try and fool applicants into thinking that they won in a “DV lottery,” “visa lottery,” or “Green Card lottery.” It is important to remember that there is no short cut to applying for U.S. immigration. Applying for the DV lottery is done via an official government application process. DOS does not send e-mails to applicants.
- The INS confusion. The Immigration and Naturalization Service was dismantled on March 1, 2003. Simply put, it no longer exists. If anyone or any business entity claims to represent INS, they are obviously part of a scam. All immigration-related correspondence will comes from USCIS.
Important note: As an effect of President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration, and due to a federal court order, USCIS will “not begin accepting requests for the expansion of DACA on February 18 as originally planned and has suspended implementation of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents.” For more information, go to the Executive Actions on Immigration page of the USCIS website.
The Spanish Group Operations Manager Salvador Ordorica noted, “The most important thing to remember is to always work with professionals and accredited individuals. Getting the wrong kind of help will cost you more money and significantly delay your application.”
California-based The Spanish Group specializes in providing USCIS accredited translation including certified transcript translations and Mexican birth certificate translations, among other Spanish document translation services.
Lorenzo Saavedra is a San Francisco-based Colombian writer. He has a degree in Journalism and Economics from the University of Miami where he graduated with Latin honors. He is fluent in Spanish, English, Italian, and also speaks “some Arabic.”
During his time in the university, he wrote about Cuban-American population and relations, and the incorporation of Cuban-Americans into mainstream American society.
Lorenzo juggles his time between working as a freelance writer and travelling which is also a source of inspiration for many of his works. His favorite topics are politics and social issues, literary and film criticism, and business.
Lorenzo enjoys going to the beach and learning about new languages.