A crucial key to understanding potential immigration scams is to understand the current law. This can sometimes be difficult because the law changes often, as it did in November of 2014, when President Barack Obama issued several executive orders on immigration. In general, offers to help with immigration may be scams if they don’t comply with federal law, if they sound too good to be true, or involve payment of large amounts of cash upfront without seeing a human. The best course of action is to review immigration law with an experienced immigration lawyer or to visit your local immigration office. Some of the common types of scams include:

  • Improperly timed services.Offering application services before any changes to the immigrations law have been enacted.
  • Taking advantage of the inability to understand the English language.One example, from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website is understanding that the expression “notario público” in Spanish sometimes means an attorney while in English, it means a notary public which just means the person can formally witness your signature. Numerous unscrupulous individuals take advantage of the potential confusion this may cause by claiming to be an immigration attorney when they are merely a notary in the US sense of the word with no credentials to assist with immigration. Be especially vigilant of notario público scams.
  • Payment through nonstandard means.Payment of immigration fees should normally be done by a check or money order. The payment should be made payable to the Department of Homeland Security. Credit card payments may be possible through the USCIS website or at a local immigration office. Payment by phone or email is suspect. Payment by PayPal or Western Union is also suspect.
  • Lottery Visa and Green Cards.Approval is done by the US State Department. It is not done through email contact. Anyone who promises you that you will win the Lottery for a visa or Green Card is not telling the truth.
  • Non-governmental websites are suspect.The official website for US immigration services information is https://www.uscis.gov/. If you are being told to supply information to a website that is not this website or a site with a .gov extension, you may be the object of a scam.
  • Forms should be free.Immigration forms should be free if you download them from the https://www.uscis.gov/​website. Applicants can also get forms from their local USCIS office or by requesting they be sent through the US mail.
  • Job offers through email are suspect. Scammers are known to tell foreigners they have been offered a job in the United States if they pay a fee to obtain the job offer. A job offer does not permit foreigners to work in the United States unless the workers has A Green Card, a work permit, a proper work-related visa or other employment authorization.

Some additional actions that should make you question if the person or organization that is working with you is legitimate include saying they need to keep your original documents. Applicants should always keep their birth certificate, passport and other crucial papers. Asking you to sign a form that is blank or that is only partially complete is also suspect. You should only sign paperwork that is complete. You should also get a receipt from the USCIS so you can prove that you filed the application and can make proper inquiries about your status. Scams & Deportation Those who are the most desperate to avoid deportation tend to be the most likely to fall victim to immigration scams. Additionally, falling for an immigration scam could cause you to unknowingly break the law and place you in danger of deportation or other severe immigration penalties. When your status in this country is on the line, it becomes more important than ever to ensure you are working only with reputable and dependable advocates, and that you avoid shady or potentially illicit groups, promises, and services at all costs. For experienced and caring immigration guidance and deportation defense, contact Landerholm Immigration at (510) 756-4468 today. Our lawyers are ready to help you navigate the complex realm of US immigration law, and will fight to defend you from harsh and undeserved removal actions, especially when you have fallen victim to an immigration scam.