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How to avoid common immigration scams

Becoming a U.S. citizen comes with a host of benefits ? you have the full rights and protections of the U.S. Constitution, you can sponsor immediate relatives, you can vote in elections and you can travel without fear of losing your status. Sadly, many people prey on people trying to work toward residency and citizenship, using scams to take advantage of immigrants.

With that in mind, it may be helpful to go over some of the most common scams:

  • There are agencies that promise or guarantee employment documents, visas or even green cards for an exaggerated fee.
  • Many websites say they are part of the USCIS and may try to charge for forms or services that are offered free on the official USCIS site.
  • Spam emails may offer, for a fee, of course, a better chance to win a visa lottery.
  • Some companies take advantage of a translation quirk. "Notario publico" in many Latin American countries is a certified legal professional, whereas a "notary public" here is someone who authenticates signatures.

Always remember that the USCIS will never charge you for a form, will always issue receipts and only accept payments from credit cards, money orders and certified checks. The best way to avoid these types of scams is to work with an immigration attorney who is legally able to practice law in your state. He or she can take a look at your situation and help walk you through the complex process of obtaining a green card or citizenship.

Source: findlaw.com, "Immigration Fraud," retrieved May 15, 2015

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