For many immigrants, obtaining a visa to enter the U.S. is a privilege, but receiving a green card is a dream come true. With a green card, non-citizens become legal permanent residents of the United States and can live and work indefinitely without fear of deportation.
However, the process involved with getting a green card isn’t easy. Sadly, there are many people who will go to great lengths to take advantage of individuals who desperately want to be with their family and are not always familiar with U.S. immigration procedures.
People will advertise services or even reach out to and say they can help–but their ultimate motive is to simply take your money. And, in some cases, sabotage or prevent your chances of successfully getting a green card.
If you, a family member or a loved one is seeking a green card, it is very important to avoid green card scams.
Top 3 popular scams to watch out for
Here are a few common examples of green card scams to watch out for:
1. Paying money for free forms
Many people reach out to immigrants or their family members claiming to have the right forms needed to apply for a green card. These individuals often charge large fees to obtain them. However, immigrants should never pay money any type of U.S. immigration form. The forms needed to apply for a green card are always provided by the U.S. government are free-of-charge.
2. Paying money to notaries or notarios públicos
Notaries or notarios públicos often reach out to immigrants offering legal assistance in exchange for a fee. In some countries, notaries are considered lawyers. But in the United States, they are not real lawyers and do not know the law. They simply have the ability to sign certain documents.
Immigrants who need legal help applying for a green card should only hire an immigration attorney licensed in the United States or an “accredited representative” from the U.S. government.
3. Paying money to get your application expedited
Some people may say that they have “special knowledge” to get a green card application approved quickly–if individuals are willing to pay. This is simply not true. Green card applicants should understand that no one has “special knowledge” to get someone a green card application fast-tracked.
2 ways to avoid these scams
Fortunately, there are ways to avoid these scams:
1. Only get information from U.S. government websites
There is a lot of information on the internet available to immigrants and their families regarding the laws and procedures involved with the green card application process.
However, it’s important to always access U.S. government approved sites while searching the web. These are sites that contain addresses that end in .gov.
An example is the Official Website of the Department of Homeland Security. This site is a great place to find helpful information about the immigration process. The web address ends in .gov so individuals can count on the information found within to be reliable and accurate.
2. Work only with a U.S. immigration lawyer
Those wishing to apply for a green card should always work with or speak with a licensed U.S. immigration attorney or an “accredited representative” from the U.S. government. These individuals are trusted representatives who know the laws and procedures and will always look out for your best interests.
All others are likely to have ulterior motives that could harm any chance of success.