SACRAMENTO, June 19, 2020 – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today issued a consumer alert warning Californians to be wary of immigration scams, and notaries or immigration consultants who offer legal assistance regarding immigration matters. Individuals are encouraged to know their rights, learn more about legitimate immigration resources, and seek trusted legal assistance, if needed. The alert comes on the heels of a landmark ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court keeping the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy in place nationwide.
“Immigration scams that prey on the hopes and dreams of those seeking a better life in the United States are simply unacceptable,” said Attorney General Becerra. “It’s important to always be cautious in the face of offers that seem too good to be true. That’s why my office is issuing a number of key recommendations to avoid falling prey to fraudulent immigration consultants. It’s a time to celebrate, but it’s also a time to remain vigilant. Here at the California Department of Justice, we’ll continue to do everything we can to stand up for the rights of everyone — no matter who you are or where you come from.”
Today’s recommendations to help protect consumers from immigration scams include:
- Do not hire an immigration consultant or a notary. Immigration consultants are not attorneys or experts in immigration law;
- Do not hire an immigration attorney until you confirm that the person is licensed to practice law. Notaries and immigration consultants may unlawfully offer legal advice or even tell you that they are immigration attorneys;
- Do not pay for immigration forms. Such forms can be accessed for free by visiting the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website at uscis.gov/forms;
- Get immigration information from dot-gov (.gov) websites that are affiliated with the government. Information on dot-com (.com), dot-net (.net) or other websites may be wrong and should not be trusted;
- Do not pay for immigration services until you have received, read and understand a paper copy of your contract. If you are not fluent in English, you should request that the contract be translated;
- Be careful about giving your original documents to anyone. You should not provide your original documents;
- Do not sign an immigration form that includes incorrect information or blanks. Before you sign any immigration forms, be sure that the forms are fully and accurately filled out;
- Do not give money or any personal information to people who call on the telephone, claiming that there is a problem with your immigration matter. No federal or state agency, including USCIS, will ever ask for your personal information or payment over the phone, by email, or text; and
- Keep copies of all documents associated with your immigration matter, including copies of the immigration documents filed and correspondence from the government regarding your immigration status.
If you are the victim of an immigration scam, you may:
- Contact your local District Attorney or county department of consumer affairs;
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission here;
- Learn about tools to help you avoid immigration scams at uscis.gov/avoid-scams; or
- Report it to the Attorney General at oag.ca.gov/report. When you provide information regarding your experience with immigration scams, the Attorney General is better informed and positioned to investigate and prosecute immigration services fraud.
A copy of the full consumer alert and additional resources is available here. A copy of the alert is also available in Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.