Be Aware of Immigration Scams

If you have questions or looking for an attorney, we have a few tips that can help you avoid being the victim of an immigration scam.

Right now, it’s peak time for employers filing for H-1B working visas. International students are looking to get CPTs and OPTs. Some of you may be looking to immigrate to the United States. Others may be undocumented immigrants, looking for a way to stay. USCIS released a message stating:

As you may know, a federal district court in Texas issued a temporary injunction on February 16, 2015, which prevents USCIS from implementing expanded guidelines for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Until further notice, the court order prevents U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) from accepting requests under the expanded DACA guidelines, which was originally planned to begin on February 18. The temporary injunction also requires USCIS to suspend plans to accept requests for Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) beginning this May.

Given the court order, USCIS urges customers and stakeholders to beware of scammers who may spread false information and mislead people by charging for unnecessary services. These scams can occur in person or over the telephone or Internet. In some cases they can even be tied to legitimate services.

Unfortunately, there are people out there who want to take advantage of those seeking to stay in the United States. It’s extremely important you do your homework before hiring an immigration attorney. Here are some tips to help you with your search.

How to Find an Experienced Immigration Attorney

It’s SO important to do your research. We’re talking about your life, everything you worked for. You just can’t sit back and trust someone to do the job right. YOU have to be actively engaged in your own immigration process. Do the research, learn what exact paperwork needs to be filed, educate yourself about the entire process. That way you can make sure everything is being done correctly.

1. Ask and get references: Ask around–family, friends, folks at your international office on campus, professors, and university administrators. You may be surprised by the network these people have. When it comes to attorneys, people are VERY quick to recommend and even MORE quick to share when they had a bad experience.

2. Look at different organizations: One example is the American Immigrants Lawyers Association (AILA). This is a group of attorneys and lawyers who practice and teach immigration law. Just because a lawyer is a member of this group doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee he/she is super-amazing, however, being a member shows some level of commitment to practicing law.

We would also recommend subscribing to the ILW.COM newsletter. You will receive an email each day Monday-Friday with articles related to immigration. This is another great way to keep up-to-date with immigration news.

3. Do Interviews: Once you have a list of potential lawyers, give them a call. Call as many as you can. Most lawyers have consultation fees, but see what information you can get over the phone without having to pay. If it sounds good, then take the next step to pay for a consultation.

All situations are different, so make sure you find someone who has experience with your type of case. For example, if you’ve been arrested before you’ll need an attorney who understands not only immigration law, but also criminal immigration law.

What questions you should ask:

A. Have you worked on cases similar to mine? This is important so you know the attorney has experience that will benefit your case.

B. What are my chances for a positive outcome? This is incredibly important to ask.

We will say it again with great emphasis: THIS IS INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT TO ASK.

You should do research beforehand so you know if the attorney will be telling you the truth or he/she is trying to take advantage of your situation by saying, “Oh yes! Not a problem” just so he/she can get your money, even though they are fully aware the success of the case is not favorable.

We would recommend this question being a major determining factor in choosing an attorney. A decent attorney will tell you up front that nothing is guaranteed, however, they’ve had similar cases with positive outcomes. A good attorney will tell you he/she can’t help you, but will refer you to someone who may be able to help.

Unfortunately when it comes to immigration, nothing is guaranteed. So don’t have an attorney tell you otherwise.

C. How long will it take to get a result? This will give you an idea of when you should expect to hear updates from the attorney. Keep in mind since we’re dealing with the government, things do get delayed. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to follow up with the attorney. This is why you’re paying him/her.

D. Who will be working on my case? The law firm may have the attorney’s name, but it doesn’t mean he/she will be working on your case.

E. What are methods of payment? You need to get an idea of how much the entire process will cost. Not only do you have to pay the immigration attorney, but you will need to pay the fees associated with the attorney filing the paperwork for you. This is where your research comes in handy so you can get a rough estimate on how much the total cost will be. See what different payment options for the attorney is available and if credit cards are accepted.

4. Check the State Bar: All lawyers and attorneys have to be approved by the state bar to practice law. You can call the bar in your state to check the status of any attorney or lawyer.

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