US officials warn people to be aware of immigration services scams

by Ray Clancy on January 27, 2016

Immigration officials in the United States are again warning about the danger of scams and reinforcing that not everyone who offers immigration services are authorised to do so.

“While many of these unauthorized practitioners mean well, all too many of them are out to rip you off. This is against the law and may be considered an immigration services scam,” said a spokesman for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

“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 authorized to help,” the spokesman added.

USCIS points out that going to the wrong place can delay visa and citizenship applications and petitions, result in the payment of unnecessary fees and possibly lead to removal proceedings.

“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,” the spokesman explained.

To help USCIS has launched the Unauthorized Practice of Immigration Law (UPIL) Initiative. “As part of the effort, we’ve partnered with several government agencies to identify resources that can help you avoid immigration services scams,” the spokesman added.

The advice includes being familiar with USCIS online educational resources, which include the top things to know before and after filing an application or petition and a list of common immigration services scams.

There is also state by state information on where people can report an immigration services scam and advice vice on finding authorized legal help.

“Only an attorney or an accredited representative working for a Board of Immigration Appeals-recognized organization can give you legal advice. The Internet, newspapers, radio, community bulletin boards and storefronts are filled with advertisements offering immigration help. Not all of this information is from attorneys and accredited representatives,” the spokesman said.

“There is a lot of information that comes from organizations and individuals who are not authorized to give you legal advice, such as notaries and other unauthorized representatives,” he explained, adding that people should be aware that claims from businesses offering to get green cards and work permits faster than applying direct through USCIS are wrong and all that happens is the applicant ends up paying their higher fees.

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