Protecting Yourself Against Green Card Scams as an Immigrant
Green card scams targeting immigrants are all too common. This guide covers how you can protect yourself against green card scam websites.
Avoid Common Immigration Scams
Scammers will use all means possible to lure visa applicants into falling into their trap so that they can steal from them. This can be a devastating moment for an immigrant who wants nothing more than to lay down their roots in the United States.
A green card scam will cost you money and cause serious immigration consequences. It also could 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 whether they qualify for green cards, especially for the Diversity Visa Lottery.
Additionally, immigration scams are common as many applicants are unfamiliar with the regulations and processes under government agencies such as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the U.S. State Department (Department of State).
Last but not least is the language and cultural barrier. Many immigrants do not speak American English as their first language or are not familiar with the cultural norms of the United States, which scammers are eager to take advantage of.
The Types of Scammers You Need to Look Out for When Applying for a Visa
There are numerous types of immigration scams, but some occur more often than others. The scammers you need to be aware of include the following:
Notarios Posing as Lawyers
Immigration scams often involve unqualified and unscrupulous persons who pretend to be accredited attorneys who can offer you citizenship and immigration services.
They will further convince you that they will help you file the immigration paperwork and fill in all blank immigration forms required by the government at a fee.
At the end of it all, they will not file the immigration paperwork. At times, the 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 notary public in Latin America and Europe) to pose as an immigration lawyer licensed to practice law, but they have little to no legal training about the immigration process.
Imposters Posing as U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Officers
Another significant immigration scam involves people pretending to be U.S. government agencies. You can also come across websites pretending to be government websites, such as the USCIS website.
In most cases, they impersonate the USCIS by emailing or calling you and informing you that there is a problem with your immigration status.
They will go further by telling you they will fix the problem at a fee and threaten you that your application will be denied if you fail to do so.
Can You Report Green Card Frauds?
Absolutely! It is always a good idea to report anything you suspect to be a scam to minimize the odds of someone else being taken advantage of by them.
How to Report Immigration Scam
You can always report it to the Federal Trade Commission. You can also hire an immigration attorney such as Michael G. Murray, P.A, to help you report the scam and assist you with your immigration status.
All information provided to the Federal Trade Commission is highly confidential. You do not need to provide many details, such as your name, and whatever information you provide is not recorded.
If you have lost any money to the 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 tips form.
Your complaint will then be forwarded to federal, state, local or international law enforcement.
You will also be required 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 Does the U.S. Government Recognize Them?
To qualify and be recognized for a marriage-based green card, 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 termed a legal marriage? This is a marriage that is officially recognized by the government of the state or country that you got married. This means that an official record of your marriage should be easily obtained from government offices.
A green card marriage is legal if you can provide proof of an official record from your state’s government.
What Are Some of the Consequences of Immigration Scams in the United States?
Immigration scams are an issue taken very seriously by the United States government, and they carry harsh penalties such as jail time and fines.
Some green card scammers may provide or submit falsified documents to immigration officials who are required to support a green card application to steal from you.
They can also forge or make counterfeit green cards which would later lead to severe consequences on your side.
These are just a few of the consequences of green card scams:
Loss of Money
It’s not uncommon for victims of green card scams to lose money. As mentioned above, an immigration scammer will look for all means to make you give them money.
They will give you excuses, lie about why your paperwork cannot be submitted, 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 get such a call, hang up the phone and report the incident using the options described above.
Even if the scammer fails to get your money, you will likely feel taken advantage of and your time taken wasted. Imagine if you have been dealing with a green card scammer for days or weeks with the hope of obtaining the green card as expected. Later, you realize you have been scammed.
When this occurs, you will have lost precious time that could have gone toward applying for your green card through legal means. However, in most instances, you can pick yourself back up and begin taking action to gain permanent resident status in the United States.
In some cases, you may also be a victim of identity theft. The scammer could 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 that can be hard to recover from.
Lastly, if you are caught up in an immigration scam, you could be arrested and jailed. This is especially true if the scammer has submitted falsified documents on your behalf 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 get your green card safely is by seeking attorney services from a trusted immigration law firm in your state with your immigration matters.
Michael G. Murray is an excellent example of a trusted law firm with immigration lawyers who are well-versed in immigration law. Our naturalization & citizenship lawyer will help you obtain your green card in the most legit ways and provide you with the legal services you need when pursuing an immigrant visa.
Get Legal Help From Licensed Attorneys
If you’re ready to begin pursuing a lawful permanent residency, a licensed attorney working for a reputable law firm can give you legal immigration advice and help you obtain your visa.
Avoid the worry of falling into the hands of green card scammers by turning to Michael G. Murray, P.A. Get in touch today!