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How to Recognize Immigration Fraud and Protect Yourself: USCIS Recommendations

US Citizenship and Immigration Services at its the official website provides several examples of the most common types of immigration fraud. Learn how to identify them and protect yourself from scammers, as well as what to do if you become a victim of scammers.

Photo: Shutterstock

Form I-9 and Email Fraud

Employers may receive fraudulent emails asking for information from the I-9 form - the letter is framed as if it came from USCIS. In fact, employers are not required to file Form I-9 with USCIS. An employer must have an I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification for each employee who needs to complete it. All these forms must be kept for a certain period of time. Visit Center I-9to learn more about storing and validating this form.

The scam emails come from a fake news@uscis.org email address that is not a USCIS email address. The body of the email may include the USCIS and the Inspector General's Office logos, your address, and a download button that links to a fake non-government web address (uscis-online.org). Do not reply to these emails or follow the links in them.

If you think you have received a fraudulent email requesting USCIS form I-9 data, please report it to Federal Trade Commission... If you are unsure if this is a scam, forward the suspicious email to the USCIS Webmaster (uscis.webmaster (at) uscis.dhs.gov). The Immigration Service will review the emails received and, if necessary, forward them to law enforcement.

Payments by Phone or Email

USCIS will never ask you to transfer money to an individual. The service does not accept transfers through Western Union, MoneyGram, PayPal or gift cards as payment for immigration fees. In addition, the agency will never ask you to pay for services to an individual by phone or e-mail. You can pay some immigration fees online, but only through USCIS online account and Pay.gov.

Find out more on the page about payment for USCIS services.

On the subject: The 6 most common scam schemes in the US: how to protect yourself

Winning the Visa Lottery

USCIS does not operate the Visa Lottery Program, known as the Green Card Lottery (DV). This program is managed by the US Department of State.

Visit Department of State websiteto learn more about the program, eligibility requirements, and how selected individuals are notified.

You will find a lot of useful information in ForumDaily on this topic.

Remember that DV is free. Important: The Department of State never will not send you an email that you won the green card, you can check this only on your own initiative.

Fraud Sites

Several websites on the network claim to be affiliated with USCIS and offer step-by-step guidance on how to fill out a USCIS application or petition. Make sure your information comes from uscis.gov or is linked to uscis.gov (site URLs must end in .gov.)

Remember that USCIS will never ask you to pay to download the forms - they are provided free of charge on the official website. You can also get forms from your local USCIS office. To order them by mail, follow these instructions.

Job offers

Beware of companies offering jobs from abroad via email. If you received a suspicious job offer by e-mail before you left your country and came to the USA, this can be fraud, especially if you are asked to pay money for such a document (job offer).

Even if a job offer is legal, you are not allowed to work in the United States unless you have a permanent resident card (green card), work permit, or work-related visa that allows you to work for a specific employer. Details - on US Employment Page.

If you are already in the United States on a student visa, speak with a student adviser (designated school official) at your university before starting work. If you intend to graduate and apply for further practical training (OPT), read the instructions on US Employment Page.

On the subject: In the United States, a new type of fraud associated with COVID-19: how to protect yourself

Student-oriented fraud

If you are an international student looking to come to the United States to study, make sure to apply to an accredited college or university. Find your institution on the web page Council for Higher Education.

You must have a Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, in order to come to the United States. As soon as you are admitted to the university, Certified Student and Exchange Program (SEVP), the designated school staff member will give you one of two documents:

  • Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Student Nonimmigrant Status (F-1) - for academic and language students;
  • Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Student Nonimmigrant Status (M-1) - for vocational training students.

Unaccredited educational institutions cannot sponsor your student F-1 visa.

Further information on Form I-20 can be found on the DHS website. studyinthestates.dhs.gov or on the USCIS website at “Students and employment”.

Money for Government Relations

Sometimes companies and websites pretend to be immigration experts or say they have special ties to the government. They can also “guarantee” that you will be able to get a visa, green card or work permit faster if you pay a fee. Remember that USCIS has no exceptions to normal processing times, and no one can get these services faster than the normal process. Check case processing time online.

What to do if you become a victim of immigration fraud

Fraud can and should be reported to Federal Trade Commission. On USCIS page There are coordinates by which you can declare scammers, as well as laws on protecting you as a consumer.

Remember that a fraud report will not affect your immigration application or petition. In addition, many states allow anonymous reporting of fraud. Your initiative will help stop intruders.

Read also on ForumDaily:

Delay in an American visa: what does it mean and is it possible to get a green card later

What to do if you didn't win a green card

DV-2022 green card lottery results published: where to check and what to do next

Passive income: how to quickly pay off debts in the USA

fraud Educational program immigration Service USCIS Immigration in the USA
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