People who are immigrating to the U.S. might hear about several kinds of scams:
- websites that look like U.S. government sites, but are not
- people who are charged for government forms that are free
- people called notarios, who charge fees but cannot give you legal help
In the U.S., notarios, notarios públicos and notary publics are not lawyers. They cannot help you with immigration. They will say they can help, and tell you to pay them. But they cannot help you.
The U.S. government authorizes some people who can help you with immigration. These people are called “accredited representatives.” An accredited representative does not have to be a lawyer. But he can give you legal advice on your immigration. Immigration lawyers also can help you.
Immigration cases can be difficult. You need help from someone who can handle your forms and meetings correctly.
Honest people you trust, like your family or friends, may offer help. These helpers should write or translate what you tell them to. But they should not give you legal advice.
Here is how you can avoid some scams:
- Do not pay for immigration forms. Those forms are free from the government.
- Get advice from U.S. government websites. A website might look like it comes from the government. Make sure the website address ends with .gov. That means it is a government website.
- Do not pay a notario for legal advice. Notarios will not help you, even when you pay them.
- Call the FTC at 1-877-382-4357
- Go online: ftc.gov/complaint
- Do not go to a notario, notario público, or a notary public for legal advice. In the U.S., notarios are not lawyers. They cannot give you legal advice.
- Never pay for government forms from the U.S. government. Government forms are free.
- Get immigration information from U.S. government websites. You might see a website that looks like it is from the government. Make sure that the website address includes .gov. That means the website is from the U.S. government.
- Never sign a form that is blank. Never sign a form that has false information in it.
- Do not let anyone keep your original documents, like your passport or birth certificate.
- Keep a copy of every document you turn in. Keep a copy of every letter you get from the U.S. government.
- You will get a receipt when you turn in your forms. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will give it to you. Keep the receipt. You will need it to check on your application.
- visit www.uscis.gov/forms
- call USCIS at 1-800-870-3676
- Order the free brochure from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), I Need Immigration Help. Who Can Help Me?
- Find the brochure online at www.ftc.gov/immigration
- Call the FTC at 1-877-382-4357 to get a free copy sent to you
Go online: www.ftc.gov/complaint
The FTC uses complaints to build cases against scammers. Any information you can give helps investigators.