The wrong help can hurt. Use this information to avoid common immigration scams.
TPS Re-registration Scams
Do not pay for or submit any form until USCIS updates official TPS re-registration information for your country. Stay updated at uscis.gov/TPS.
Immigration Scam in India
Beware of emails supposedly sent by the USCIS New Delhi Field Office or the Department of State in India. These emails may contain attachments, claim you have been approved for a visa to the U.S., or request money for visa processing. Emails like that may be scams because:
- Emails from the U.S. government always end in the domain“.gov”;
- USCIS will never send an email indicating you’ve been approved for a diversity visa, immigrant visa, non-immigrant visa, or any other type of immigration benefit; and
- USCIS will never ask you to transfer money to an individual (see Payments by Phone or Email).
Please visit the Department of State’s website on fraud warnings for additional information.
Form I-9 and Email Scams
USCIS has learned that employers have received scam emails requesting Form I-9 information that appear to come from USCIS. Employers are not required to submit Forms I-9 to USCIS. Employers must have a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, for every person on their payroll who is required to complete Form I-9. All of these forms must be retained for a certain period of time. Visit I-9 Central to learn more about retention, storage and inspections for Form I-9.
These scam emails come from a fraudulent email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. This is not a USCIS email address. The body of the email may contain USCIS and Office of the Inspector General labels, your address and a fraudulent download button that links to a non-government web address (uscis-online.org). Do not respond to these emails or click the links in them.
If you believe that you received a scam email requesting Form I-9 information from USCIS, report it to the Federal Trade Commission. If you are not sure if it is a scam, forward the suspicious email to the USCIS webmaster. USCIS will review the emails received and share with law enforcement agencies as appropriate.
In many Latin American countries, the term “notario publico” (which is Spanish for “notary public”) means something very different than what it means in the United States. In many Spanish-speaking nations, “notarios” are powerful attorneys with special legal credentials. In the U.S., however, notary publics are people appointed by state governments to witness the signing of important documents and administer oaths. A notario publico is not authorized to provide you with any legal services related to immigration. Only an attorney or an accredited representative working for a Department of Justice (DOJ)-recognized organization can give you legal advice. For more information, go to the Recognition & Accreditation Program page on DOJ’s website.
Payments by Phone or Email
USCIS will never ask you to transfer money to an individual. We do not accept Western Union, MoneyGram, PayPal, or gift cards as payment for immigration fees. In addition, we will never ask you to pay fees to a person on the phone or by email. You can pay some immigration fees online, but only if you pay through your USCIS online account and Pay.gov.
- Paying fees by mail: When you send your application by mail, pay your immigration fees with a check or money order. Write “Department of Homeland Security” on the “Pay to the Order of” line. You may also pay the fees with a credit card if you submit Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transaction with your application.
- Paying fees online: If you use your UCSIS online account to file an application (for example, the naturalization application or Green Card renewal application), you can pay with a credit card, debit card, pre-paid debit card, or U.S. bank account.
- Paying fees in person: You can also pay with a credit card, debit card, or check at any domestic USCIS field office that accepts payments. You can learn more on our Paying Immigration Fees page. When writing a check please write “Department of Homeland Security” on it. Please note that starting November 5, 2018, the Los Angeles Field Office and Los Angeles County Field Office will no longer accept money orders or cashier’s checks. Check our News page for updates.
Winning the Visa Lottery
USCIS does not manage the Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) Program. This program is managed by the U.S. Department of State (State Department). The DV Program is also known as the visa lottery.
Visit the State Department’s website to learn more about the program, the requirements to enter, and how they notify selectees. Remember that the DV Program is free and the State Department will never send you an email about being selected.
Some websites claim to be affiliated with USCIS and offer step-by-step guidance on completing a USCIS application or petition. Make sure your information is from uscis.gov or is affiliated with uscis.gov. Make sure the website address ends with .gov.
Please remember that we will never ask you to pay to download USCIS forms. Our forms are always free on our website. You can also get forms at your local USCIS office or by calling 800-870-3676 and order forms over the phone. To order forms by mail, follow these instructions in English or Spanish
Beware of companies offering a job from overseas or by email. If you receive a suspicious job offer by email before you leave your country to come to the U.S., it may be a scam, especially if you are asked to pay money to receive a job offer.
Even if a job offer is legitimate, you are not allowed to work in the United States unless you have a permanent resident card (Green Card), an Employment Authorization Document (work permit) or an employment-related visa which allows you to work for a particular employer. Read the Working in the U.S. page.
If you are already in the United States on a student visa, talk with your foreign student advisor (designated school official) at your school before you take any job. If you are about to graduate and are applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT), read the instructions on the Working in the U.S. page.
Scams Targeting Students
If you are an international student outside of the U.S. and want to come to the U.S. for education, make sure you are applying to an accredited college or university. Look for your school on the Council for Higher Education web page.
You must have a Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, to travel. After you are accepted into a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school, a designated school official will either give you:
- Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status –For Academic and Language Students, or
- Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status –For Vocational Students
Schools that are not accredited cannot sponsor you for an F-1 student visa.
If you receive a suspicious email, forward it to us at USCIS.Webmaster@uscis.dhs.gov.