Common Scams Targeting Immigrants
People currently living in or immigrating to the United States might be faced with:
Notarios, or people who claim to be lawyers
Fake government websites
Someone asking you to pay for blank immigration forms
Fake job opportunities
Dishonest remittance agencies
What is a Notario?
In the United States, 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.
They may be known by different names in non-Spanish speaking communities. But by any name, they are people who lie to you about what they can legally do in the immigration process.
The immigration process is very complicated and can take a long time; bad information can slow down the process. And submitting wrong information or missing important deadlines can cause delay and in the worst case, cause you to be deported.
Only lawyers and “Accredited Representatives”, authorized by the U.S. Government, can help you with your immigration process.
People you trust, like your family or friends, may offer help. They may have some experience with immigration. These helpers can write or translate what you tell them to. But they should not give you legal advice. And they cannot ask to be paid.
Here are other ways that unauthorized people can take advantage of people seeking immigration help:
Fake Government Websites
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.
Blank Immigration Forms
Never sign a blank immigration form. Always review and if you need, have someone you trust, or a lawyer, translate for you. And NEVER pay for immigration forms. They are always free from the government. You can also get forms at your local USCIS office or by calling 800-870-3676 and order forms over the phone.
Fake Job Opportunities
If you receive a suspicious job offer by email before you leave your country to come to the United States, it may be a scam, especially if you are asked to pay money to receive a job offer. Even if a job offer is legitimate, you are not allowed to work in the United States unless you are a lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder), have an Employment Authorization Document, work permit, or have an employment-related visa which allows you to work for a particular employer.
Misleading Remittance Services
Many immigrants and refugees send money back to their home country. Currently, remittances constitute a larger source of money to Latin America than international foreign aid. Many people revert to informal service