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Misleading and fraudulent immigration schemes

Georgia residents are likely aware that to live and work legally in the United States is an aspiration shared by countless people around the world. The road to becoming a permanent resident or citizen of the U.S. is often a long and frustrating one, and it is not uncommon for those taking this path to become the victims of schemes that promise a great deal but deliver very little. The USCIS advises those with immigration issues to deal only with attorneys or recognized organizations, but this has not stopped a number of unhelpful or fraudulent schemes from cropping up.

Using the telephone is a common way of taking advantage of those seeking naturalization or citizenship. These phone scams often involve individuals claiming to be immigration officials who ask for personal information such as passport numbers. These individuals may then seek payment to take care of problems that do not exist. The USCIS recommends that any such telephone solicitation be reported immediately.

Businesses in communities with a large immigrant population sometimes offer to speed up or assist with naturalization or citizenship paperwork. The immigration process has no shortcuts, and the individuals running these businesses rarely have the necessary skills or knowledge to offer any real benefit to applicants. There are also a number of websites that charge for forms that can be downloaded free of charge from the official USCIS website.

Schemes such as these can likely be avoided if those seeking naturalization or citizenship deal with an experienced immigration attorney. An attorney and client have a fiduciary relationship, and attorneys are bound by strict ethical guidelines. An attorney will offer advice based on the latest developments in immigration law and can help prevent a client's applications being denied due to documentation errors or missed deadlines.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, "Common Scams", Nov. 21, 2014

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