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Archived from our former blog, The Beacon.

Watch Out for Scams Against Immigrants

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Do you or a relative want to apply or have applied for an immigration benefit? The immigration process can sometimes be complex. You or your family may have questions about how to apply for an immigration benefit or take any measure regarding your case with USCIS.Knowing who to ask for immigration help is critical because the wrong help can hurt.

Immigration scams are real and USCIS is combatting fraud by educating you about detecting and protecting yourself from dishonest practices.

Top Tips for Avoiding Scams

 Do not give important personal or financial information over the phone to anyone you don’t know or contacts you unexpectedly.

 The official ways to communicate with USCIS are by:

If you need legal advice on immigration matters, make sure that the person you rely on is authorized to give you legal advice. Only an attorney or an accredited representative working for a Board of Immigration Appeals-recognized organization can give you legal advice.

 The Internet, newspapers, radio, community bulletin boards and storefronts are filled with advertisements offering immigration help. Not all of this information is from attorneys and accredited representatives. There is a lot of information that comes from organizations and individuals who are not authorized to give you legal advice, such as “notarios” and other unauthorized representatives.

Common Scams

 Do not be fooled by unscrupulous peoplethat want to scam you and rip you off.

Watch out for possible immigration scams. Be careful if:

  • A "notario público" in the United States offersyou legal services related to immigration. In many Spanish-speaking countries "notarios" are lawyers with special credentials.However, in the United States, "notarios públicos" are individuals authorized to witness the signing of important documents. They are not authorized to provide legal services related to immigration.
  • Someone calls you posing as a USCIS officer or another government officer and asks for your personal information (such as Social Security number, passport number or alien number), tells you that you have problems with your immigration records and asks for payment to fix your records. USCIS representatives will never call you to ask for money for training, products or forms
  • Someone in a local business "guarantees" that you can get a visa, Green Card (Permanent Resident Card) or work permit faster if you pay him a fee. USCIS has no exceptions to the normal processing times and nobody can obtain these services faster than the usual process.
  • A website ending in “.com” claims to be affiliated with the government and asks you to pay to get USCIS forms. Never pay for USCIS forms; they are free! To download free forms go to or That way you can also be sure that you are getting the most recent versions of our forms.
  • Someone calls you claiming that you won a diversity visa. The only way to get a diversity visa is through a government application process. The State Department, which manages the diversity visas, does not call or send emails related to the diversity visa lottery. You can get information about the Diversity Visa Program on the State Department’s page. You can also get information about avoiding scams against immigrants on the Federal Trade Commission website.
Always get the right help from USCIS, a community organization or an authorized legal service providers.Do not become a victim of immigration scams.

 For more information on how USCIS is protecting you from fraudsters, and how to find authorized legal services, visit our Avoid Scams Web pages.