fraud

US launches new initiative to combat immigration scams

by Ray Clancy on July 28, 2015

Expats in the United States needing help with immigration matters are being urged to be on the lookout for scams as a new initiative is launched to combat scams.

Not all migrant services are legitimate, with many who advertise being unauthorised practitioners. While they mean well, all too many of them are out to rip people off, according to the United States USCIS.

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The USCIS is urging expats in the US to be on the lookout immigration scams

‘If you need help filing an application or petition with USCIS, be sure to seek assistance from the right place, and from people that are authorised to help,’ said an USCIS spokesman.

He explained that going to the wrong place can delay an application or petition, result in unnecessary fees, and possibly lead to removal proceedings.

‘Offering help if you are not registered to do so is against the law and may be considered an immigration services scam. People need to know the facts when it comes to immigration assistance,’ the spokesman added.

USCIS wants to combat immigration services scams by equipping applicants, legal service providers and community-based organizations with the knowledge and tools they need to detect and protect themselves from dishonest practices.

Accordingly, it has launched the Unauthorized Practice of Immigration Law (UPIL) Initiative which sees USCIS partner with several government agencies to identify resources that can help people avoid immigration services scams.

The advice includes using USCIS online educational resources, which include the top things to know before and after filing an application or petition, a list of common immigration services scams and advice on finding authorized legal help.

People are advised that only an attorney or an accredited representative working for a Board of Immigration Appeals recognised organization can give legal advice. The internet, newspapers, radio, community bulletin boards and storefronts are filled with advertisements offering immigration help but not all of this information is from attorneys and accredited representatives.

‘There is a lot of information that comes from organisations and individuals who are not authorised to give you legal advice, such as notaries and other unauthorised representatives. The wrong help can hurt,’ the spokesman explained.

Another danger area is telephone scams where fraudsters pose as USCIS personnel or other government officials. In most instances, scammers will request personal information such as a social security number or passport number, identify false problems with immigration records and ask for payment to correct the records.

People are advised to say ‘No’ and hang up. ‘These phone calls are being made by immigration scammers attempting to take your money and your credit card information. USCIS will not call you to ask for any form of payment over the phone. Don’t give payment over the phone to anyone who claims to be a USCIS official,’ the spokesman added.

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