Green card scams targeting immigrants are very common. This guide covers how you can protect yourself against fraudulent green card websites.
Avoid Common Immigration Scams
Scammers will use any means possible to lure visa applicants into their trap so they can steal from them. This can be a devastating time for an immigrant who wants nothing more than to put down roots in the United States.
A green card scam will cost you money and have serious immigration consequences. It could also lead to identity theft, which can have a long-term impact on your financial and mental well-being.
Numerous factors make immigrants a frequent target for such scammers. One factor is the anxiety immigrants often feel about the immigration process. They are also unsure if they qualify for green cards, especially the Diversity Visa Lottery.
In addition, immigration scams are common as many applicants are unfamiliar with the regulations and processes of government agencies, such as U.S. Citizenship and U.S. Immigration and the U.S. Department of State (Department of State).
Last but not least, there is the language and cultural barrier. Many immigrants do not speak U.S. English as a first language or are unfamiliar with U.S. cultural norms, which scammers are eager to take advantage of.
Types of Scammers to Be Aware of When Applying for a Visa
There are numerous types of immigration scams, but some occur more frequently than others. Scammers to watch out for include the following:
Notaries Posing as Lawyers.
Immigration scams often involve unscrupulous and unqualified individuals pretending to be accredited attorneys who can provide you with citizenship and immigration services.
They will further convince you that they will help you file immigration paperwork and complete all the blank immigration forms required by the government in exchange for a fee.
At the end of it all, they will not file the immigration paperwork. Sometimes, scammers will apply for immigration benefits that you are not even eligible for, creating more problems for you.
A scammer will use the term ‘notario publico’ (or notario publico in Latin America and Europe) to pose as an immigration attorney licensed to practice law, but have little or no legal training on the immigration process.
Impostors Posing as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS ) Officials.
Another major immigration scam involves people posing as U.S. government agencies. You may also encounter websites that pretend to be government websites, such as the USCIS website.
In most cases, they pose as USCIS by sending you an email or calling you to inform you that there is a problem with your immigration status.
They will go so far as to tell you that they will fix the problem for a fee and threaten that your application will be denied if you do not do so.
Can You Report Green Card Fraud?
Absolutely! It’s always a good idea to report anything you suspect is a scam to minimize the chances of someone else taking advantage of them.
How to Report an Immigration Scam
All information provided to the Federal Trade Commission is highly confidential. You do not need to provide many details, such as your name, and any information you provide is not recorded.
If you have lost money to immigration scammers, you should report it to your local police.
Can You Report Immigration Scams Online?
Yes. You can report the green card scam to the Internet Crime Complaint Center or use the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s online tip form.
Your complaint will then be forwarded to federal, state, local or international law enforcement.
You will also be asked to contact your credit card company. Notify them if you believe your credit card number has been compromised or if you are disputing unauthorized charges.
Are Green Card Marriages Legal and Recognized by the U.S. Government?
To qualify and be recognized for a green card based on marriage, you must be legally married. The practice of trying to obtain residency through marriage is illegal if the marriage in the first place is fraudulent.
So what can be called a legal marriage? This is a marriage that is officially recognized by the government of the state or country in which you got married. This means that you should easily obtain an official record of your marriage from government offices.
A green card marriage is legal if you can provide proof of an official record from your state government.
What Are Some of the Consequences of Immigration Scams in the United States?
Immigration scams are a problem that the U.S. government takes very seriously and carry severe penalties, including jail time and fines.
Some green card scammers may provide or send forged documents to immigration officials who must support a green card application in order to steal from you.
They may also forge or make fake green cards, which could then have serious consequences on your part.
These are just some of the consequences of green card scams:
Loss of Money.
It is not uncommon for green card scam victims to lose money. As mentioned above, an immigration scammer will look for every means to get you to give them money.
They will give you excuses, lie about why your paperwork cannot be filed, and even threaten deportation if you do not comply. Since you want to avoid deportation, you may feel you have no choice but to give in.
However, the truth is that no U.S. government agency will call you and demand money to avoid deportation. If you receive such a call, hang up the phone and report the incident using the options described above.
Waste of Time
Even if the scammer is unsuccessful in getting your money, you will likely feel taken advantage of and that you have wasted your time. Imagine if you have been dealing with a green card scammer for days or weeks in hopes of getting the green card as you expected. Later, you find out you’ve been scammed.
When this happens, you have wasted precious time that could have been spent applying for your green card through legal means. However, in most cases, you can recover and begin taking steps to obtain permanent resident status in the United States.
In some cases, you may also be a victim of identity theft. The scammer may have used your personal information to apply for credit cards or open bank accounts in your name. This would leave you with a tarnished reputation and financial damages from which it may be difficult to recover.
Finally, if you get caught in an immigration scam, you could be arrested and jailed. This is especially true if the scammer has submitted forged documents in your name or if you have knowingly committed immigration fraud.
How Can You Protect Yourself From Green Card Scams and Get Your Green Card Safely?
The best way to protect yourself from green card scammers and obtain your green card safely is to seek the services of an attorney from a reputable immigration law firm in your state for your immigration matters.