Tips to avoid immigration fraud

In my column "Consulta Migratoria" in the newspaper La Opinión Today, I present some tips for people who need legal advice about their immigration status to avoid becoming victims of fraud.

Even if someone is in this country illegally, they have rights. It is important to remember to always stay alert and well informed.

Remember, there are no quick fixes to "paperwork".

Here is my column:

There are unscrupulous people offering immigration services, who operate illegally by promising "fast papers", connections with immigration agents who can facilitate their cases, or offer dubious legalization methods, sometimes requiring you to make false statements.

Beware! If you are being made these kinds of promises, you are being cheated. If you sign fraudulent documents or make false statements, the consequences are serious. You could permanently damage your immigration status in this country and lose thousands of dollars. You could even be deported from the U.S. if you are misguided.

Use caution if an immigration service provider tells you the following:

We can get you your green card, work permit or US visas in a few weeks.

This is not possible!

2. We know people inside the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and can get your papers processed quickly.

That is a lie! Generally, the USCIS does not allow the processing of applications filed later than others to be advanced unless there is a force majeure reason.

3. We may cause you to qualify by providing false information about you to the government.

This lie could cost you the opportunity to someday qualify for a legal adjustment. Never lie on your application.

4. We offer guaranteed results.

It is impossible to guarantee results! USCIS is unpredictable. Also, much depends on each case and whether or not you meet the requirements.

If anyone makes any of these promises to you, report it to the authorities and find another legal representative.

Keep in mind that a legal representative should always look out for your interests. If you distrust the person or institution, change your legal representative.

When hiring a legal representative:

1. Never sign blank applications, petitions, or documents.

2. Never sign documents you do not understand.

3. Never sign documents containing false statements or inaccurate information.

4. Always obtain copies of all documents they prepared and submitted on your behalf.

5. Never pay the representative without obtaining a receipt.

Follow these tips and you will soon achieve the American dream!

If you were victimized by a notario or immigration consultant, file a complaint as soon as possible with the police department. Also notify the California Department of Justice, Office of Immigrant Assistance at 1-888-587-0557.

To file a complaint against a licensed attorney in California, call the State Bar of California at 1-800-843-9053.