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Immigration Fraud Lawyers and Attorneys

Immigration Fraud

There are numerous people trying to find a way to help those who want to live in the United States legally. However, many of these people operate in an illegal manner. They could provide or create work visas so that immigrants can get a job. There’s nothing wrong with immigrants working, but they need to have the legal documentation to get and maintain a job instead of getting illegal documents that have been made. Another way that immigration fraud can be committed is when someone changes that status of the immigrant. An example would be updating the paperwork of the immigrant to make it seem like the person is in the country legally when that person isn’t. It’s often easy for someone to commit immigration fraud because the victim is usually someone who doesn’t speak or write English very well. The person could get confused about all of the paperwork that is being completed or the process of being in the country legally, so that person will follow the lead of someone who claims to want to try to offer help.

Most of the people who solicit services of immigration are not authorized to practice any kind of law, but there are some who are attorneys or who work in other areas of the criminal justice system who commit fraud. Forms needed for immigrants are usually offered for free by the government, but someone who is committing fraud will likely charge a fee. They will also offer promises to the immigrant to get the petitions and paperwork completed as quickly as possible with fees being charged that have nothing to do with the immigration process. Most of the time, people who commit immigrants mean to do well by helping others, but they are caught up in making money off of someone who doesn’t understand the legal process.

Some businesses will offer services to immigrants that will expedite the documents needed for them to stay in the country legally. The business will take the money that the person pays without completing any kind of paperwork at all or spend a lengthy period of time getting everything processed. These documents can include green cards, visas, and records for employment. If the paperwork isn’t processed in a timely manner, it could mean trouble for the immigrant in the form of deportation even after money has been given to the business.

Businesses will usually charge more money than a government business would charge and claim that they can process paperwork faster than the government can, but this information is not true. Processors have no control over how long it takes for documents to be approved and completed. An attorney who specializes in immigration is the best option for getting all of the proper paperwork recorded and filed.

There are websites across the internet that claim to offer assistance to immigrants who are trying to get into or stay in the country legally. These websites are often fake with the people operating them simply trying to get money from people using the services that are provided. The sites will have forms that look like the same ones offered by the government but with fees required before the forms can be printed or filed. A federal government secured website is the best place to look if an immigrant wants to complete information online. However, the person should consult with an attorney before filing anything online just to be safe.

One way that companies commit immigration fraud is by offering a visa lottery. This method of fraud is committed by offering a certain number of free visas or visas for a low fee to those who are trying to get into the country. This type of fraud is often reserved for immigrants coming from a country with fewer immigrants instead of countries that have larger numbers of people trying to move.

At times, the immigrant could commit the fraudulent act. The person could falsify information that is put on the documents that are filed. Another way for the immigrant to commit fraud is to knowingly work with someone who files false paperwork to expedite the process of legally being in the country.

If you have been convicted of immigration fraud, you need to consult with an attorney who can help. The attorney will look at the type of fraud committed and whether it was intentional or whether you made mistakes in processing the immigration paperwork. An attorney can sometimes get the charges reduced if the immigrant has the paperwork processed legally or if all paperwork is surrendered.

Types of Immigration Fraud

It is estimated that over 12 mln immigrants live in the United States illegally. Generally, two broad types of crimes are associated with immigration. These are document fraud and benefit fraud which frequently overlap. Let us delve deeper into these types.

Document fraud

Also known as identity theft, this type includes counterfeiting, altering, selling, buying and/or using counterfeit documents to circumvent the US immigration laws. The list of documents includes passports, visas, birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates and a lot more. Those who assist non-citizens in preparing fake documents are subject to fines, imprisonment and prohibition from preparing such kind of documents in future. Non-citizens may additionally be charged with such crimes as conspiracy, making false statements and others and subsequently be deported from the United States.

Diversity Visa scam

Non-citizens might fall into the trap of using the services related to filing immigration documents without actually obtaining them in the end. Recently, the State Department’s Office of Visa Services issued a public warning against fraudsters that send out misleading emails claiming that the email recipient has won the DV lottery. Scammers ask recipients to transfer money to pay a proceedings fee. However, the US government never notifies winners in no way other than online via the official DV lottery website. Besides, the fee is paid directly in the US embassy or consulate.

Benefit fraud

This is misrepresentation of a fact with the purpose of qualifying for immigration benefits. The most common types of benefit fraud are marriage fraud, concealing the fact of having committed a crime when claiming the status of lawful permanent resident, employment-based immigration fraud, and claiming to have been continuously living in the US for the time being sufficient to naturalize.

Marriage fraud

In accordance with the US law, spouses of US citizens are granted permanent residency. That is the basis of numerous investigations and prosecutions which resulted in a lot of non-US citizens being deported and those proved to have helped them getting charged with marriage swindle, which is one of the most common types of immigration qualification fraud.

Penalties for marriage fraud

Both non-citizen and a US citizen who enter into a sham marriage may be subject to penalties. The criminal penalties for the non-citizen may be up to 5 years of imprisonment and/or a fine of up to 250,000 USD. Besides, their current visa will be revoked and the person will be removed from the US. Besides, the person may not be eligible for receiving a US visa and a green card in the future. As for the penalties for the US citizen, the person will also be subject to imprisonment and fine. If he or she is not actually a citizen but a permanent resident, their status might be revoked and they can subsequently be deported too.

We strongly discourage immigrants from marrying a US citizen in order to get a green card and US citizens from marrying a non-US citizen for other purpose than creating a family. This is a serious crime. In case you found yourself under investigation for marriage fraud by NYC immigration enforcement authorities, don’t hesitate to contact a criminal defense attorney in New York.

How to Avoid Immigration Fraud: Recommendations

  • You should only ask legal advice from a licensed lawyer or accredited representative, preferably the one specializing in dealing with cases of immigration fraud. Always ask a lawyer to show you their law license. If you refer for help to an accredited representative, ask to show you accreditation documents.
  • Mind that notaries public are not authorized to practice law and thus they can’t provide you with legal advice on your case. The US term is not the equivalent of “notarios publicos” in Mexico, who are legal professionals there.
  • Double-check for incorrect information before you sign any documents. Never sign a blank form and always ask for a copy of whatever document you sign.
  • Ask for a second opinion in case you have any doubts or second thoughts.
  • Ignore emails claiming that you have won the DV lottery.

What to Do If You Become an Immigration Fraud Victim

In case you are under investigation, you surely need to be cautious not to speak to an immigration enforcement representative before consulting a lawyer. Just ask for their contacts and tell you will get in touch as soon as you contact your lawyer. Don’t disclose any information or related documents, as these may later be used against you. The next step would be contacting a lawyer.

NYC Immigration Services Scams Lawyers

Acquiring work visas, changing immigration status, and engaging in other immigration affairs is a time consuming and laborious affair for immigrants. Unfortunately, many individuals and businesses try to exploit individuals who are in need of immigration services. Immigration scams include the sale of immigration documents, solicitation of services by people who are not permitted to practice law, and promises to speed up immigration claims for a fee. These fraudulent actions delay immigration applications and cost victims huge sums of money. This resource will highlight the common forms of immigration scams, ways to avoid these scams, and how to go about reporting these fraudulent services.

Types of Immigration Fraud

A Promise of Premium Services

Many businesses offer promises of green cards, visas, work permits, and other immigration documents. Typically, these businesses charge more than you would pay the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In some cases, these unscrupulous individuals claim to be able to process and file your petition or application in a short time without the need to pass through the appropriate federal agencies. Although there are exceptions to USCIS application periods, immigration service providers cannot fast track processing of documents or petitions.

Non-Governmental Websites

Some sites provide instructions for filling petitions or applications and solicit fees for immigration forms. These websites claim to be associated with USCIS when in fact they are not. The USCIS website offers immigration forms free and does not charge for detailed instructions or information on filing fees and processing times.

Visa Lottery Claims

In order to encourage people to apply for immigration status in the U.S., the Department of State(DOS) normally offers 50,000 diversity visas to persons who satisfy eligibility requirements. These visas are granted through a random selection process. Therefore, anyone claiming to guarantee selection, or improve your chances of receiving a diversity visa is a fraud. In many cases, these fraudulent offers and claims come in form of online advertisements and emails. Be warned, the only way to apply for DV lottery is by making an official application through the Department of State.

Services Provided by “Notarios Publicos”

A notary public authenticates (notarizes) signatures and checks the integrity and accuracy of legal documents but he/she is not a legal professional. If a “notario publico” in the U.S. handles an immigration case beyond the duties of a notary public, he/she is practicing illegally.

Job Offers

If you get a suspicious email regarding a job offer, it is likely that it is a scam if you are required to pay cash to be hired. If the offer is legitimate, it is worth remembering that you are not permitted to work in the U.S. unless you have a green card, work permit, or a visa that allows you to work for a particular person.

Scam Targeting Students

If you are a foreign student outside the U.S. and want to move to the U.S. to further your studies, ensure you apply to a school certified to offer a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). You are also required to have a Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status (Form I-20). A school that is not accredited cannot claim to sponsor you for the F-I student visa, therefore, institutions requesting a small fee for the visa are scams.

Tips for Avoiding Immigration Fraud

  • USCIS does not charge you to download immigration forms
  • Filing fees are only sent through credit card, certified check, or money order
  • If you have hire a lawyer to help with the immigration process, ensure he is authorized to practice law
  • If you are not working with an attorney, ensure the representative you are working with is accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals
  • Obtain receipts for payments made to an accredited representative or immigration attorney.
  • Read all the instructions in the immigration form carefully with the assistance of your lawyer.

Reporting Immigration Service Scams

If you have reason to believe that a service provider is engaging in immigration fraud, you should inform the Federal Trade Commission. Alternatively, you can file a complaint in court. Reporting a scam does not affect your immigration status or petition. Also, in many states, you are allowed to report immigration fraud anonymously.

Immigration Criminal Lawyers

Immigration is tightly regulated in the United States. Along with that regulation comes penalties for those people who break the law. While there has been much political discussion about the future of immigration law, one thing remains clear. Those people who are caught breaking immigration laws risk deportation, prison and fines. Good New York immigration crimes lawyers help these people, providing them with important legal counsel during a time of great need. Understanding these crimes and their penalties is critical. Whether you are being accused of a crime of this nature or you have a loved one who is under the pressure of the law, adding to your knowledge can help ease the situation.

Federal illegal entry statute
Federal law dictates that people can only enter the United States in approved ways. How a person enters can be different depending on that person’s purpose. Some enter for travel purposes, while others have limited visas to work. Others still are granted asylum if their country has a problem. Immigrants are at all times supposed to follow the directives of immigration officials. If they do not, they can be subject to federal penalties.

8 U.S. Code § 1325 is the part of federal criminal law that covers illegal entry. That law states that it is illegal for a person to attempt to evade inspection by an immigration officer, to entry the country in a way not allowed by an immigration officer or to entry the country using fraud to trick one of these officers. In short, the statute is written in a broad manner to cover all sorts of behaviors that might get a person into the country in a way that is not legal. A person caught doing this can be subject to jail time of not more than six months for the first offense, and in almost every instance, that person will be deported once they have served their sentence.

Marriage fraud
Not all immigration crimes involve a person sneaking into the country in a way that flouts the law. In some cases, people can be charged with trying to remain in the country through a fraudulent marriage. Immigration law grants residence in the US for people who are married to US citizens. This can lead at times to marriages that are designed only to confer on one partner the legal right to live in the US. These marriages happen most often when a person is about to lose his or her immigration standing because of the loss of a job or simply having their time in America run out.

The federal government goes to great lengths to investigate those people suspected of marrying only for the purpose of getting around the law. The penalties for marriage fraud can be even higher than the penalties for sneaking into the country. Marriage fraud can lead to five years in a federal prison. It can also lead to a fine of $250,000, though judges have wide discretion on how to fine and whether they fine at all. Importantly, people can be charged with marriage fraud whether they are immigrants or not. Americans found to be helping an immigrant remain in the country are culpable in their own right.

Business establishment fraud
One of the ways that people earn their right to stay in the US is by starting a business. Because this is a well-known way to earn legal status in the US, many people have started fake businesses or businesses that do not really provide a service. Some have done this just to give themselves the ability to gain a green card. In other cases, businesses have broken the law by providing legal documentation for workers that did not actually work for them. The law holds that any person who establishes a business venture for the sole purpose of remaining in the United States has committed a felony punishable with a fine and a five-year prison sentence.

Immigration crimes lawyers work everyday with people who are facing deportation and prison time. These crimes are serious and many people from New York and elsewhere in the country should contact a good immigration crimes attorney if they fear they may be in trouble.

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