Immigration News: Scammers await young illegal immigrants

To Young Illegal Immigrants Following the Executive Order: Beware of Scammers

President Obama's use of the Executive Order privilege is estimated to affect as many as 800,000 young illegal immigrants. The Order generates excitement and hope, along with a certain amount of anxiety. The stakes are high for many of those affected.

New Policy Offers Opportunity

The Springfield News Sun in Ohio carried a story which mentioned Cindy Nava, a 23 year old from Santa Fe, N.M. Nava came to the U.S. from Chihuahua, Mexico when she was seven. After graduating from the University of New Mexico with a political science degree next year, she wants to go to law school. She hopes the policy change will allow her to work. She's already consulted with an immigration attorney.

The prospect of a two year deportation deferral and the increased ability to apply for a conditional work permit excites many young immigrants. Lacking the permit, many currently get by with subcontractor projects.

Anytime there is change in immigration policy, scammers look to prey upon those affected. Illegal immigrants have always attracted the attention of those with fraudulent schemes, because the fear of deportation often deters victims from coming forward. An actual immigration attorney can be a more trusted source if information.

In Connecticut, Gov. Malloy succinctly stated the challenge following the issuance of the June 15th order, "Getting a work permit should be a process that encourages young people to move forward to legalize their status, and not one that makes them more vulnerable to scams or the fear that they could lose everything."

It is hoped that this group of illegal immigrants under thirty years of age will be more tech savvy, and more likely to use the internet to detect and avoid fraud schemes.The challenge is the vulnerability that ensues when hopes are suddenly raised by this much publicized Executive Order regarding immigration.

Some uncertainty exists because of the exclusions that could still result in a rejection of a work permit application. A student may come forward, for example, to get a work permit only have his application denied due to certain exclusions in the new immigration policy. Getting advice early on from competent immigration attorneys is important.

But, there's Opportunity for Scammers Too

There are a variety of fraudulent activities to be aware of. Here are some of them:
  • Phony legal services and advice
    There are only two proper sources for legal advice: immigration attorneys and accredited representatives from organizations recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals. It is very important to note that in the U.S., a "notario", or notary public, is not a attorney and cannot give legal advice. It is true that in many South American countries, a notario is in fact attorney, but not in the United States. To further understand this distinction, see the website of the National Notary Association. A scammer may prominently advertise the services of a "notario publico" in various forms of media serving Hispanic communities. The mention of "secret programs" can be a tip off. The implication is that the immigration consultant has some special connections in the government should also be viewed with skepticism. Or, that they can get somebody to "the front of the line."
  • Green card lottery or other lottery
    Each year the Department of State issues, via "DV lottery", 50,000 visas to those who typically come from countries with low immigration volume and who meet very strict requirements. Scammers have claimed to be able to get you a better chance in this lottery, for a fee. In another scam, a letter or e mail fraudulently announces that the recipient has won in a "green card lottery".
  • There is a claim to know exactly how this new policy will be enacted plus charging to file an application when there is no process yet
    In fact the Department of Homeland Security has not yet established procedures to carry out the President's immigration policy changes. Some estimates suggest that the USCIS will have an application process in place approximately in late July.
  • Charge fees to assist those who do not qualify
    The ages of those included in the Executive Order are clearly stated. One must be under thirty years old, must have been in the United States for five years or more, and must have come to the U.S. before the age of sixteen. Still, scammers may try to collect fees to help those that clearly do not qualify. Although a felony conviction or certain significant misdemeanors will be a problem, having some kinds of misdemeanors in one's record does not automatically disqualify a person from getting a work permit. If one has any misdemeanor convictions, it's important to seek out an immigration attorney, to get competent analysis.
  • Charge fees for forms available for free on the USCIS website
    The internet simplifies the free distribution of many types of forms. Forms that the USCIS make available are no exception. They are available without charge.

Finally, when it comes to fraudulent schemes, any mention of the INS is a tip off. The INS has not existed since 2003. Now, immigration benefits are granted by the USCIS, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Some of the abuse by non-accredited consultants has been addressed through stricter laws in states like California, New Jersey and New York. Insisting upon a clearly written contract that spells out services and fees is highly recommended, no matter where one lives. Reputable and accredited representatives will typically have no problem with such a request.

In conclusion, remember these important points:
  • In the U.S., a notario is not an immigration attorney
  • Beware of lottery scams
  • Be aware of who potentially qualifies
  • "Secret programs" and "inside connections" are suspect
  • USCIS forms are free on their website

Last reviewed on: 07/02/2012
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