Understanding and Avoiding Green Card Scams

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What Is a Green Card Scam?

As a foreign national, you need a green card if you hope to make the United States your permanent home. 

However, the path to obtaining this coveted document has its challenges. You’ll need to navigate a maze of legal requirements, immigration forms, and fees. The journey could take months or, in some cases, years to conclude, and even at that, the outcome is not always certain.

Regrettably, some individuals prey on the desperation of immigrants striving for a green card. They may make false promises to expedite the green card application process and guarantee approval in exchange for a fee. However, they cannot deliver on their false promises, as their only goal is to take advantage of your dream of becoming a lawful permanent resident in the U.S. and rip you off.

The repercussions of falling victim to a green card or immigration scam can be severe. Apart from financial losses, you risk compromising your immigration status and exposing yourself to fraud, identity theft, and even deportation. Hence, you must avoid dealing with such fraudulent people at all costs.

The information in this guide explains how some popular green card scams work so you’ll know how to identify them and protect yourself from being scammed in your quest for a new life in the U.S. Please read on to learn more.

Types of Green Card Scams

Green card scams can take various forms, such as:

Lottery Scams

The diversity visa program, also known as the green card lottery or American Visa lottery, is administered by the U.S. Department of State. The program targets individuals from countries with low immigration rates in the U.S.

Interested individuals may apply for the lottery through the Department of State’s website. The successful applicants are then selected randomly each year by the authorities. Those selected can receive a green card and become lawful permanent residents if they meet all other requirements.

The diversity visa application process is free, and getting selected is purely a matter of chance. Only those selected may be asked to pay fees to complete the next steps in the immigration process. But sometimes unscrupulous individuals or agencies prey on prospective applicants by asking them to pay fees to guarantee their selection and giving false assurances of success. 

If you intend to apply for a diversity visa, you can avoid such agencies or individuals by relying only on the information you get from the official website of U. S. immigration authorities such as the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of State.

You can also seek help from a qualified immigration attorney in the U.S. if you need personalized guidance with the process.

Notario Fraud

The only set of people qualified to give legal advice about U.S. immigration law are immigration lawyers. They understand how the law works in various circumstances and can explain how it applies to your unique case.

However, in many Latin American countries, there are individuals known as “notario publicos” (which translates as notary publics in English). These individuals have a lot of legal training in those countries and can perform a variety of legal services.

But although there are notary publics in the U.S. their role is limited to serving as impartial witnesses when official documents are signed to prevent fraud. Notaries in the U.S. are not qualified to give legal advice unless the notary is also a lawyer.

However, knowing that (prospective) immigrants, especially those from Latin American countries, may not be aware of the difference, some people who may or may not be actual notaries present themselves as such and claim to be knowledgeable in immigration law and qualified to offer immigration/legal services to the public.

But they have no legal qualifications, and their sole goal is to make money off unsuspecting immigrants seeking a green card. Some even go as far as filing false documents for immigrants, which could lead to an immigration ban. Relying on the advice of such people could harm your case as their advice would likely be incorrect.

If you need legal advice or help with your immigration case, consider reaching out to an immigration lawyer in the U.S. instead. You’re more likely to get the right solutions you need from them.

Marriage Fraud

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, the foreign spouses of U.S. citizens are eligible to receive a marriage-based green card. As immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, they are given priority, and their green card applications typically progress faster than those from other family-based immigration categories.

Based on this position, some immigrants contract sham marriages with U.S. citizens to obtain a green card. Such marriages are fraudulent because under the Immigration Laws in Texas and all over the U.S., the marriage upon which a marriage-based green card application is based must be authentic in every sense.

Marriage fraud is a scam and a criminal offense. The immigrant and U.S. citizens involved could face criminal prosecution, fines, and imprisonment. If you’re an immigrant in such a situation, you could also be deported and barred from re-entering the U.S. 

Marriage fraud is a shortcut that’s not worth taking. If you are seeking ways to relocate or remain in the U.S. legally, there are lawful options you can explore. Contact an immigration attorney to learn more. 

How To Avoid Green Card Scams

Unfortunately, green card scammers are everywhere on the internet. They could also contact you by phone or via email. So, how can you identify and avoid them? The following tips could help:

  • Beware of self-acclaimed immigration agents mentioning the Immigration and Naturalization Service (I.N.S). That agency ceased to exist in 2003 and was replaced by the USCIS.

  • U. S. official government websites typically end with “. gov”. Avoid websites claiming to be from the government that do not have the “. gov” designation.

  • Official immigration communication concerning your green card will come directly from the USCIS or U.S. Consulate with a .gov email. Any third party who contacts you claiming to have information about your case is most likely a scammer. 

  • Protect yourself by seeking legal assistance from a qualified immigration attorney. An immigration lawyer can represent you and provide relevant information about your case. You don’t need to go looking for such information elsewhere.

Get Help With Your Green Card Application at Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law

Getting involved in a green card scam voluntarily or otherwise could ruin your chances of making the U.S. your permanent home. Instead of relying on inaccurate information peddled by unqualified individuals about your chances of obtaining a green card or letting them represent you, consider getting the help you need from an experienced immigration lawyer.

At Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, we understand how green card applications in the U.S. work. We can help determine your eligibility for a green card and navigate the complex application procedure on your behalf. If you are ineligible for a green card, we can explore other options that could help you qualify for a green card in the future.

You may have fallen prey to a green card scam in the past, which may have made you inadmissible for entry into the U. S. or subject to deportation. There are Immigration Waivers of inadmissibility that could help depending on the specifics of your case. We can evaluate your situation and help you determine eligibility for such a waiver. We can also help you navigate the process of obtaining one. Our Deportation Defense Lawyer can also represent you if you’ve been placed in removal proceedings due to your inadmissibility and fight to secure your stay in the U.S.

As lawyers, we are bound to act in the best interests of our clients, so you can trust that we will provide you with quality legal advice and accurate information about your case.

So, if you have further questions about obtaining a green card, contact us immediately. Let us assess your case and determine the best way forward.