Immigrants come to the United States to build a better life for themselves. Sometimes they are fleeing dangerous situations. Unfortunately, many arrive in this country only to find that they are faced with an entirely new set of threats. A pair of recent news releases from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) detail some of the unique schemes that have been used to defraud immigrants.
Fraud Against Immigrants Comes In Many Forms
One news release describes a fairly straightforward scheme committed by an immigration consultant. Allegedly, the consultant asked clients to provide blank checks and money orders to accompany immigration petitions. Instead of filling them out and sending them in, she wrote her own name on them and deposited them in her own bank account.
Another news release details a much more complex scheme. A man formed a variety of groups with names like Americans Helping America (AHA) and allegedly charged a membership fee to immigrants in exchange for helping them gain United States citizenship. The man promised to help immigrants become citizens through adult adoption. None of the approximately 500 immigrants who paid the fee became citizens.
Use Caution When Seeking Help With Immigration Matters
Here are some things to think about when seeking help with any immigration law matter, from visas to citizenship to deportation defense:
Check credentials: Has the person offering immigration services ever accomplished what you are being promised? Can it be verified through references? Is the person licensed in any way? One of the benefits of choosing an immigration law attorney to help with these matters is that there is oversight. Attorneys must be trained and licensed in order to practice law. You can even look for those who are certified in immigration and nationality law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
Beware of shortcuts: Immigration processes are complex. Depending on the specific process, there may be long waits involved. If you are told about a shortcut that seems too good to be true, it probably is. However, if you work with a lawyer experienced in immigration law, you may be able to move through the process more efficiently by avoiding common pitfalls and quickly overcoming known obstacles. This is less about shortcuts and more about making certain everything is done correctly the first time.
Never hand over a blank check: This should be a red flag. In fact, whenever you are asked to pay for a service, you have the right to request information about what you are being billed for specifically. If you are told to pay a fee, you may be able to write the check out to the specific agency to which the fee will be paid.
At the law firm of Miley & Brown, we have been helping immigrants with legal matters since 1985. Members of our team are certified in immigration and nationality law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. We can help you with any immigration law issue, and we can provide guidance about what you should do if you believe you have been the target of an immigration fraud scheme.