Around the world, foreign nationals are being targeted by immigration scams. The threat is so prevalent and expansive that the www.uscis.gov reserves an entire section of the website for immigration scam protection and prevention. USCIS requires monetary payments from visa applicants for a variety of filing fees and other expenses. Those who are awaiting decisions on their pending application can be especially vulnerable to USCIS scams. Here are a few things to look out for in potential scammers:
- The caller informs you of an issue with your application, but requires payment over the phone
USCIS will never request payment through the phone or via email. If the scammer is impersonating a USCIS officer, they will attempt to persuade you of the immediate necessity of funds for your eligibility approval. However, genuine USCIS requests for payment (if any to begin with) will always be relayed through a letter via USPS on official USCIS stationary.
- Award of Lottery Visa or Green Card by U.S. State Department Email
According to USCIS, if you are selected by the green card lottery program (also known as Diversity Visa) you will not receive an email. Instead, you will be notified through the Electronic Diversity Visa website.
- Scam USCIS Websites
There are several scam website that promote false opportunities for employment or expedited visa approval opportunities. Similarly, there are websites that falsely claim to be affiliated with USCIS and other U.S. departments. Each official government website ends with a .GOV (e.g. uscis.gov). Additionally, USCIS will never ask for an applicant to pay to download a USCIS form. If you are asked to provide money for access for an immigration form or any supplemental information, you may be on a fake website impersonating to be a USCIS website.
If you are unsure of the validity of a certain form, you can contact your local USCIS office for verification or can call USCIS customer service at 800-375-5282.