Spotting Immigration Fraud
It is an unfortunate part of immigration law that there are a large number of fraudsters and cheats out there who are looking for a quick buck by defrauding unknowing immigrants. If you are an immigrant who is looking for immigration advice and services, it is important to follow the advice below to ensure you are not victimized.
Also, if you have been defrauded by an immigration fraudster, the advice at the bottom of the page will provide you with directions on how to report the fraudster to the proper authorities.
Things To Remember When Selecting Immigration Assistance
First, if something sounds too good to be true – it probably isn’t. There is no quick or easy way to get a green card or to become an American citizen. You cannot just send money to a certain (often unnamed) immigration agency to get an immigration benefit. An often used selling point by immigration fraudsters is that they “know a guy who can get immigration benefits.” Immigration law doesn’t work that way. No one is that powerful. If someone gives you that line, walk away.
If you are seeking immigration assistance, you should seek out a licensed immigration lawyer. Obtaining immigration benefits involve applying federal law and immigration attorneys are the only ones who are truly qualified to provide you with legal advice. If you want an attorney who focuses on immigration law, it is best to ask if they are a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Although it is not necessary for an immigration lawyer to be a member of AILA, almost all lawyers who focus their practice on immigration law are members.
Unfortunately, some lawyers have defrauded immigrants in the past and an immigrant must not assume that any attorney can help. Be sure that whoever helps you can clearly explain to you how they will apply for your immigration benefit and why you are qualified for that benefit.
Once you decide on who will help you with your immigration concern, you should learn everything about the person or organization. You should know the person’s name, where that person is an attorney, where his or her office is, and how you can contact him or her. You should also check to make sure that the attorney is licensed by checking the state bar’s registry of lawyers. In New York, that registry is found here.
The last piece of advice to remember is this: it may not be possible to solve your immigration problem. If someone says that they can fix any problem, especially if they do not even listen to your situation, then you should not trust that person and walk away.
I have been Defrauded? Now What?
If you have been defrauded, it is important to remember that you are not alone. Just because you are an immigrant (even an undocumented immigrant) does not mean that you have no means of fighting back against the person or organization that has defrauded you.
If you are in New York, the NY State Attorney General’s Office has a complaint form that you can fill out. Additionally, you can approach the district attorney’s office in the county where you were defrauded.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) also has resources that can help you. AILA has an active Unlawful Practice of Law Subcommittee and has a list of where to report an immigration fraudster based on what state you are in.
If you are unsure what to do (or are afraid), please feel free to contact Gafner Law Firm. Although the firm may not be able to personally help you, it will do its best to help point you to the right officials and will try to alleviate any concerns you might have.
Additional Information on Immigration Fraud
To learn more about immigration fraud and how to fight it, please visit the NY State Attorney General’s Office website.