USCIS Reminder: Beware of Immigration Scams and Fraudulent “USCIS” Websites
The USCIS reminds all immigration applicants:
Before you submit an application, petition, or request with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), make sure you are getting the correct information from the right place. Some commercial websites may put you at risk of becoming a victim of an immigration scam.
Please read the information below to learn how to avoid these scams and ensure your immigration applications, petitions and requests go to the right place.
Make Sure You Are On Our Website
Websites run by private companies are not affiliated with us, even if their addresses may be similar to ours. These companies often charge fees for information available for free on our website, such as forms and form instructions. Besides costing you unnecessary fees, visiting these commercial websites may delay your application, petition or request. Such processing delays can possibly lead to removal proceedings.
Go to uscis.gov for free downloadable forms and form instructions, information on filing fees and processing times, as well as a link to the USCIS Electronic Immigration System.
NOTE: If you are unable to download forms, you may call 800-870-3676 and ask to have a copy mailed to you.
Consider Using the USCIS Electronic Immigration System
The USCIS Electronic Immigration System is an online, account-based system that allows you to submit some benefit requests electronically. Currently, you can use USCIS Electronic Immigration System to pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee and submit Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card.
For more information, visit uscis.gov/uscis-elis.
When filing a form electronically, make sure the website address ends in “.gov.” Additionally, most government websites include a statement somewhere on their page that identifies them as an official U.S. government site. For example, at the top of the USCIS homepage you’ll find the statement “Official website of the Department of Homeland Security.”
Get Help From Licensed Attorneys or Organizations Recognized by USCIS or the Department of Justice’s Board of Immigration Appeals
USCIS and the Department of Justice, Board of Immigration Appeals, have a list of recognized organizations and accredited representatives who may be able to provide free or low-cost assistance. You may also seek assistance from a licensed attorney. Attorneys and accredited representatives are authorized to represent you once they notify us of their appearance as your legal representative. Go to uscis.gov/avoid-scams/find-legal-services for information on finding an attorney or accredited representative.
Be Careful When Seeking Assistance to Prepare a Form
We are aware of stories about customers who paid a lot of money to have a business or individual prepare or submit immigration benefit requests to us on their behalf. However, many of these businesses or individuals are not authorized to represent USCIS customers.
Some businesses or individuals advertise themselves as “notarios.” In many Spanish-speaking countries “notarios públicos” are lawyers with special credentials. In the United States, however, notary publics are individuals authorized to witness the signing of important documents. They are not authorized to provide legal services related to immigration. If an attorney or accredited representative also provides services as a notary, he or she must submit a G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as an Attorney or Accredited Representative to reflect that they are authorized to represent clients before USCIS.
Consider these tips when asking a business or individual to help you fill out or file a form with us:
- Signing a form – Only you, the customer, can sign an application, petition or request. If a business or individual promises to take care of everything for you, including signing the form on your behalf, know that they are not allowed to do that.
- Fees for forms – All USCIS forms are available at gov for free. No individual or business should charge you for a form to file for an immigration benefit.
- Fees for preparation – As a customer, you can always fill out a form by yourself. Legitimate organizations and businesses can help you prepare your form. Only an attorney or accredited representative can provide legal advice. If you need legal advice on a more complex form, or if you have specific circumstances, we recommend you contact an attorney or accredited representative who can assist you with your legal questions.