How To Protect Yourself from Green Card Scams as an Immigrant

How To Protect Yourself from Green Card Scams as an Immigrant

Knowing about common immigration scams when entering the United States is essential since immigration scams can hurt people who want to move there. While various information is available regarding the different green card and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) scams, scammers are constantly creating new ways to target potential green card-eligible people. 

In this article, we will cover various scams, as well as how to recognize and protect yourself from scammers. Potential migrants should be aware of immigration scams because they can result in significant financial loss and could threaten to jeopardize their immigration status. Scammers can also provide false information, which could result in severe consequences for an individual’s immigration case. By being informed, cautious, and aware, people can protect their immigration status. 

Green Card Lotteries

Scammers may falsely claim to be conducting a green card lottery or charge a fee to enter a non-existent lottery. They may pose as official U.S. government representatives and request payment for processing fees or other services related to green card lotteries. 

The State Department only notifies selectees via their Electronic Diversity Visa website. The U.S. government does not charge any fee to participate in the green card lottery. it does not utilize intermediaries to conduct the lottery.

It is important to remember that you cannot win the green card lottery if you do not ever enter the lottery. Entering the green card lottery requires completing the official application and following the official State Department process. The State Department’s website can verify if you have entered the lottery or been awarded a visa.

Several countries of origin do not qualify for the green card lottery. Be aware of your green card eligibility, as eligibility for a green card does not automatically qualify you for the green card lottery. 

Notarios Públicos vs. Notary Public

In some cases, individuals posing as notarios públicos in the United States have taken advantage of the trust placed in this title to scam immigrants. In Latin American countries, notarios públicos are individuals with a high level of law education and a license to practice law. In the United States, a notary public refers to someone licensed to witness signatures who may have no law background. 

Scammers who claim the notarios públicos  title advertise themselves to immigrants with a Latin American background as immigration experts. They offer help obtaining immigration benefits but provide incorrect information and charge excessive or unnecessary fees. Some may even falsely claim connections or influence immigration authorities to expedite the process. These particular scammers most commonly target Spanish-speaking immigrants from Latin American countries.

It is crucial to be cautious and only use trusted, official sources for immigration information and services. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) does not recognize Notarios Públicos as authorized representatives for immigration services. When seeking assistance in immigration law, verify credentials and don’t trust promises of quick results. 

Government Impersonators

Immigration scams involving government impersonators refer to fraudulent activities where scammers pose as immigration officials or government representatives. The impersonators may demand personal information or payment of fines and fees through emails, texts, or fraudulent phone calls. They may also offer to “fix” a problem, in exchange for a fee or personal information. 

Government impersonators have gone as far as creating false immigration offices or participating in the act of “spoofing,” where the victim receives a call that appears to be from the proper authorities. Individuals impersonating government officials may also request payment for government forms that are available for free through the USCIS. 

USCIS scam calls are prevalent. Be aware of them and always verify phone numbers and emails if contacted by anyone claiming to be part of this agency. When in doubt, hang up and call the number on the USCIS official website. All government emails will come from an email ending in “.gov .” Government agencies will not reach out unsolicited to offer immigration services. 

Scam Websites

Many websites claim to offer immigration services but are scams. These websites often make false promises to take advantage of unsuspecting individuals, such as guaranteed visa approval or expedited processing. These websites often use fake or misleading information to get people to pay for services they do not offer or that can be obtained for free or at a lower cost through legitimate government or immigration organizations. The most significant risk of scam websites is the risk of submitting personal information that can be used to steal your identity or access other sensitive personal data.

Use only official websites and thoroughly research any company or individual offering immigration services. Be cautious of websites that promise or guarantee that visas or other immigration benefits will be approved quickly. Government websites always end with .gov, indicating that the website is legitimate. Official government websites will never charge a fee to download USCIS forms. When in doubt, these documents can be obtained for free at your local USCIS office or by mail from the USCIS.

Scams Targeting Students

Immigration scams targeting students are common and often involve false promises of study visas or opportunities to study abroad. Be aware of guaranteed student visas or university admissions offers, especially with quick turnaround times or requests for hefty upfront fees, personal information or to wire money to an individual or overseas bank account. 

Use of official-looking logos or language with limited or no contact information on websites unaffiliated with accredited universities is another red flag for prospective students seeking F-1 or M-1 status. 

Schools that are not accredited cannot sponsor immigrant students for an F-1 student visa. Always check the credentials of universities and organizations seeking to sponsor a student visa. 

Telephone Scams 

There are many different telephone scams targeting prospective immigrants to the United States. Telephone scammers are known to request personal information like banking information, passport information, or other personal data. They may also demand alternate forms of payment, such as Amazon gift cards or prepaid Visa gift cards. In addition, they may threaten your immigration status if you don’t pay a fee.

USCIS will never call and request payment over the phone.  Suppose a caller claims to be a government official pressuring you to act quickly or threatening immediate deportation if you do not comply with their demands. In that case, hang up and call back the number listed on the official website of the organization the caller claims to be affiliated with. 

Job Offers

Immigration scam job offers are a common tactic used to take advantage of individuals seeking employment in the United States. Scammers may offer job placements for a fee, but legitimate job offers will not require payment upfront. These job offers may come unsolicited but can also be found posted on job boards and websites. Job offers or listings may guarantee expedited green cards or work visas, which are only controlled by government entities and are taken on a case-to-case basis. 

Be aware of jobs that seem good to be true. If a job offers a high salary with no experience required, it may be a scam. Individuals perpetuating job offer scams may also try to extract personal information by requesting sensitive data before a job offer is made, such as a social security number or a bank account number.

To protect yourself from this fraud:

  1. Research the company and job offer.
  2. Check the company website and search for reviews or information about the company online.
  3. Contact the company directly using the contact information on its official website, especially if it is a more well-known corporation.

Legitimate job offers will not require payment for visas, work permits, background checks, or applications. Report suspicious job offers to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Fraud Detection and National Security Division. 

Tips To Protect Yourself from Immigration Scams

Here are some tips to follow to protect yourself from immigration scams:

  • Verify the credentials of the individual or organization you are dealing with. Look at reviews and testimonials from others who have used that service to help determine if it is legitimate. Be cautious if you are guaranteed a green card or visa. Official government websites will always end with .gov. If a website presented as an official government website ends with .com, it is not legitimate. 
  • Only pay fees or sign any document after thoroughly understanding the terms. Seek legal advice from established professionals, or check official government websites for information. The USCIS website will never require payments to download forms. Do not sign any blank pages of paper or any unofficial-looking documents.
  • Do not provide personal or financial information to anyone you do not trust. This information can be used for identity theft, financial fraud, and other scams. Scammers can use your information to steal your funds, open credit cards in your name, or impersonate you. 

Providing this information can have severe and long-lasting consequences. Protecting yourself is essential. Be cautious and only provide personal and financial information to trusted sources, such as official government officials, reputable immigration lawyers, and trusted family members. 

Scott D. Pollock and Associates Can Help Fight Against Immigration Scams

If you suspect you have been the target of an immigration scam, do not provide any personal or financial information. First, report the incident to the appropriate authorities, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Next, reach out to the attorneys at  Scott D. Pollock & Associates to see if you can receive the compensation you deserve.  To learn more about our services or to get started with a consultation. Contact us today by filling out our online contact form.


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