3 immigration scams that people in Texas should beware of

Immigrants in Texas should be careful to avoid working with notarios públicos, lawyers with poor records and other parties who could be scamming them.

Navigating matters that involve immigration law can be difficult for many people, given the complexity of this area of law and other potential obstacles, such as language barriers. Sadly, worsening this issue, there are a number of scams that target immigrants who are seeking green cards, visas, deferred action and other forms of relief from deportation. Most immigrants in San Antonio can benefit from understanding the most common of these scams.

1. Working with 'notarios públicos'

"Notarios públicos" may represent themselves as professionals who hold legal credentials and are qualified to advise or represent a person during immigration law proceedings, according to the U.S. Department for Citizenship and Immigration Services. This is the case in some Spanish-speaking countries, but in the U.S., notaries do not perform these same duties.

Notarios públicos may give incorrect legal advice and cause a person to take actions that hurt his or her prospects of remaining in the United States. It is therefore critical that immigrants who wish to seek professional assistance work with legitimate attorneys or with representatives from organizations that are accredited in providing immigration services.

2. Giving scammers sensitive information

The Federal Trade Commission advises immigrants to take several precautions to ensure that they are not giving important documents or information away to scammers. For example, immigrants should do the following:

  • Only sign completed forms that they understand, and keep copies of each form that has been signed or submitted to the USCIS.
  • Never relinquish documents such as birth certificates or passports to other people.
  • Before submitting immigration-related documents or payments online, check that the website is government-run and not overseen by private parties.

In addition, the USCIS recommends that immigrants be familiar with basic policies so that they can more easily recognize scams. The USCIS will never request payments via phone or email, and it does not send emails to immigrants who won green cards through the Diversity Visa Program. At present, the organization is not accepting applications from people who qualify for Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or expanded provisional waivers.

3. Hiring the wrong attorney

Immigrants who decide to work with an immigration attorney should use caution when choosing one. The FTC states that it is important to confirm that an attorney belongs to a local bar association and remains in good standing with the association. Immigrants should avoid working with other attorneys, as they might have a history of ethical or legal violations.

Immigrants should also remember that attorneys who remain in good standing still might not have a track record of performing quality work or securing successful results on behalf of immigrants. Consequently, it is advisable to perform research into an attorney's background and meet with multiple prospective lawyers in order to choose a qualified professional.

Trevino Immigration Law focuses exclusively on immigration law and uses more than a decade of experience in this area to seek the best outcome for each client. People who need representation or advice regarding immigration law matters are encouraged to contact the firm today to schedule a consultation.