Beware of Immigration Scams

Beware of Immigration Scams

Immigration scams can take many forms. Some false websites may look like U.S. government websites and trick you into making a fraudulent online payment. Other scammers charge clients for forms that are typically free. Some people say they can help you with your immigration process, but they are not actual lawyers or cannot legitimately help you. Regardless of the method, most scammers try to make you panic and quickly give them money.

Scams can not only take your money, but they can also hurt your chances of lawfully immigrating to the United States.

Common Scams

There are many immigration scams out there. Here are a few that have been reported by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): 

Immigration Scam in India

Scammers pretending to be the New Dehli Field Office or the Department of State in India send emails to visa applicants. The emails contain attachments and claim that your U.S. visa has been approved. Often they will also ask for money to process your visa, but these emails are scams.

Warning signs of a scam:

  • The email address does not end in “.gov”. Emails from the U.S. government always end in “.gov”;

  • USCIS does not send emails if your visa was approved; and

  • USCIS will never ask you to transfer money through a link within an email. However, they will notify you via email that you need to log into your online account and make a payment. In that notification, they may provide a link to their website. But that link should still require you to log into your account in order to make a payment.

“Notarios Publicos”

The term “notario publico” translates to “notary public” in English. But the position means something different in the United States than it does in most Latin American countries.

In Latin American countries, notarios are powerful attorneys with legal credentials.

Notary public in the United States are appointed by the state government to witness the signing of important documents. They are NOT authorized to provide legal advice or represent anyone in court.

If you need legal representation or advice, hire an immigration attorney or USCIS-certified representative. 

Scam Websites & Phone Calls

If you are looking for information about your pending immigration case, make sure that the website address ends in “.gov”. Many websites claim to be connected to USCIS, but are scams. 

USCIS will never make you pay to download forms from their website. 

USCIS will never ask you to pay a fee over the phone. Most USCIS fees are paid online at pay.gov or through your USCIS account. Sometimes on your caller ID, it may look like either Immigration or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is calling you. But neither organization will ever ask you to give credit card information over the phone.

If you ever have questions or concerns about payment scams, ask your immigration attorney.

How to Report a Scam

If you have been a victim of an immigration scam you can report it. Reporting scams will NOT affect your immigration application or petition. For Wisconsin, you can report a scam on the State of Wisconsin website. You could also report it to the Federal Trade Commission on their website.  

Be Careful Who You Work With

Hire an experienced immigration lawyer to help you with your immigration case. If you have questions about how to find a good immigration lawyer, please refer to our lawyer shopping guide.

Learn More

To learn more about different types of reported scams, please review the list from USCIS’s website.

Last updated: 11-27-2019

Immigration law is always changing. We will do our best to keep our website as up-to-date as possible, but the latest information might be more readily available at USCIS.gov. These pages were written to help you better understand your legal options, however, none of the information published by Catholic Charities Milwaukee should be considered legal advice. If you plan to open your own immigration case, hire an immigration attorney to consult you personally.