In November 2018, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the resolution of criminal charges filed against a South Carolina woman for defrauding dozens of foreigners who had experienced difficulty obtaining legal immigration status. According to the press release issued by DHS, the 43-year-old woman had promised her victims that she had the ability to fast-track their green card applications in exchange for hundreds of dollars. She later entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to prison.
DHS officials generally mention nine scams commonly perpetrated against immigrants in the U.S. While there are probably dozens of potential scams, the following four situations are among the most common. If you or someone you know has been a victim of an immigration scam, seek the advice of a San Diego immigration attorney for guidance about how to proceed.
1. Notario Público
This scam targets immigrants from Mexico and other Latin American nations where public notaries are attorneys who essentially serve as court officers for various legal functions. This doesn’t apply in the common-law system of the U.S., where notaries’ main duties are to certify signatures and serve as witnesses. Notario público is the Spanish translation of notary public, and this is something unscrupulous individuals will take advantage of to scam foreigners. The bottom line is that notaries aren’t attorneys and thus aren’t allowed to practice law.
2. PayPal, Western Union, and Telephone Payments
In recent years, there has been a sharp increase in fake emails sent to foreigners prompting them to click on embedded links or images to visit web pages where they can ostensibly pay the filing fees for certain immigration forms. It’s important to remember that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services doesn’t accept PayPal or Western Union payments.
3. Green Card Lottery Scams
The first massive Internet scam dates back to the mid-1990s, and it involved an unethical law firm peddling applications to the Diversity Immigrant Visa program, also known as the green card lottery. These days, the visa lottery scam usually involves a fraudulent email purportedly announcing the “winners” of this program. While the U.S. Department of State does administer a program that encourages applicants from certain countries to apply for randomly selected visas, those who are selected are never notified via email. Moreover, there are no registration fees.
4. Renewal of TPS Registration
The cancellation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for many immigrants from troubled countries in Latin America and the Caribbean has been one of the lowest points of the Trump administration. Nonetheless, scammers have exacerbated the situation by offering bogus TPS registration renewal forms for which they charge hefty fees. TPS recipients from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, and Nicaragua should seek the counsel of an immigration law firm to see if there is a way to adjust their status. They should also keep in touch with their lawyers in case there is a major shake-up in the White House that could change DHS policies.
In today’s turbulent environment surrounding U.S. immigration policies, it’s easy for potential immigrants to be confused about how to properly complete paperwork and follow procedures so they can enter the U.S. legally, and scammers take advantage of this confusion. Get in touch with KS Visa Law if you’d like more information on immigration scams or other issues such as U.S. citizenship and immigration services. San Diego residents can call 858-874-0711 today to schedule an appointment.