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16 September 2011

Don’t Be Fooled by Copycat Immigration-Help Sites

When you go online to download and fill out immigration forms, ensure that you know the difference between official government websites and websites run by private businesses.

Government agencies use “.gov” in their Web addresses, while private businesses do not.

You May Think You Paid the USCIS Fee, When You Really Didn’t

Some private websites that charge to prepare immigration forms mimic the look and feel of official government sites, leading users to mistakenly believe they are dealing directly with the government and paying USCIS fees. Many copycat sites add to the confusion by charging applicants the same amount for preparing an immigration form that USCIS charges for filing that same form.

As a result, some applicants have sent forms to USCIS without submitting the filing fees. These applicants mistakenly believed they had paid the USCIS filing fee when they paid the private firm for preparing the forms.

In fact, USCIS has received applications with copies attached to them of cashed electronic checks that the applicants submitted to private businesses. Contrary to what the applicants believe, these electronic copies are NOT proof of payment of USCIS fees. And when filing fees are not paid, USCIS cannot process these applications and instead must return them.

We encourage you to carefully check any website that offers assistance in filing immigration forms—and to clearly understand what services you are paying for.

Remember: You are NOT paying the USCIS filing fee when you pay a private business for help with preparing forms. Be particularly wary of paying for help from any Web page that claims to be an “official” site or that mimics the look of a government site but does not have “.gov” in its Web address.

You can always visit our website, www.uscis.gov/forms, to download our forms FOR FREE and to learn how and where to file forms and submit filing fees to USCIS. Be sure to read the instructions that accompany each form.

For more information on how to avoid immigration services scams and identify who is authorized to provide legal advice, please visit www.uscis.gov/avoidscams and see our blog post on Green Card lottery email fraud.

28 Comments:

At September 19, 2011 at 10:51:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your concern. Those rogues must be dealt with!!!

 
At September 19, 2011 at 11:24:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is VERY true with the Greencard Lottery. There are couple companies/groups preparing websites that look VERY MUCH like USCIS (one even makes calls worldwide after obtaining the basic info) and not only trick people to provide their information but then harass and threat people to get and pay money for their services.

 
At September 19, 2011 at 12:31:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Edouard Saint-clair said...

Then again, the USCIS legal arms are long enough to do away with these presumed, apparent predators, preying on frightened and careless immigrants of all race and class. Of course, they are privately doing a work and they are supposed to get paid; but publishing a site that has the look and feel of a governmental office is very misleading. What about copyright laws?

 
At September 19, 2011 at 12:32:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear USCIS,

If a business makes its website look and feel like USCIS.gov, and charges the same amount for preparing an immigration form that USCIS charges for filing it, do you consider such practice fraud?

Since you already know what these websites are, why don't you reveal their names? You are not accusing them of anything, you are simply stating a fact (by listing how many applications prepared by that company were returned because of filing fee confusion, for example). Isn't it more helpful than posting warnings repeatedly?

 
At September 19, 2011 at 12:38:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could you please give a list of the companies or organizations that you know are fraudulent?

 
At September 19, 2011 at 12:44:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its wonderful that USCIS is making such an effort to make people aware.However,down the road USCIS should also develop a system like IRS has allowed registered Tax preparors to file returns.This will eliminate the existing problem USCIS has and will help those who do not have strong command on english or not very computer literate to file on line applications.It appears as USCIS is putting cart infront of the horse

 
At September 19, 2011 at 5:11:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many thanks for the uscis which always makes us aware of such email fraud.for instance ,there are some websites which invited people overseas this september to participate in the dv lottery 2013 yet,we know thanks to uscis warning emails that the registrations for such immigration process will commence in october.

 
At September 20, 2011 at 1:13:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks to USCIS for raising this issue,I almost became a victim too when I filed for my wife and son about five years ago,I think ,in this case the USCIS have all the needed power to let this scam and so called private helping companies stop using the LOGO of USCIS and the search (engine) of USCIS.Because any time you click to search for USCIS web page, this private companies will appear in numbers with State Department Logo, USCIS thanks for your information and stop this companies now.

 
At September 21, 2011 at 3:18:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

There already are people licensed by the government to help you fill out USCIS forms. They are immigration attorneys!
Also, if you have used legal services from someone not licensed to provide those services and you have lost money that way, you may be able to get it back. There is a new law that allows you to sue those people and make them pay for the lawyer who helps you sue them too.

 
At September 28, 2011 at 2:59:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan today filed suit against a Chicago man for cheating consumers out of at least $10,000 for help with their immigration applications that he never provided.

The lawsuit alleges Lekarauskas deceptively marketed and represented his website,

www.USAimmigrationsupport.com,

as an official government site. The website features a logo that closely mimics a federal seal next to the title “United States Immigration Organization,” and attempts to make consumers believe it is an official government site where they can obtain passports, visa and citizenship applications.

 
At October 13, 2011 at 10:16:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

How true it is! I made the mistake of filing my application with a website named US Immigration Organization, and sent my electronic check for US$680, thinking that this would be sent to USCIS. But since two weeks went by without any notice from said organization or the USCIS, I phoned then and left a message, without a response. So, I called USCIS consumer information, and was informed that form N-400 can only be mailed, and not filled out on the internet. That's when I realized I had the victim of fraud. However, I was one of the lucky ones because I went to my bank and explained to them what had happened, and fortunately I got the money back. I also contacted the Federal Trade Commission to report the fraud.

 
At January 22, 2012 at 8:02:00 AM EST , Anonymous ラルフベビー服 said...

I'm a Japanees business man. I want to get American Citizenship. May I know the following questions:
1. How can I become a United States citizen?
2. Who is born a United States citizen?
3. How do I become a naturalized citizen?
4. What are the requirements for naturalization?
5. When does my time as a Permanent Resident begin?
6. What form do I use to file for naturalization?
7. If I have been convicted of a crime but my record has been expunged, do I need to indicate that on my application or tell an Immigration officer?
8. Where do I file my naturalization application?
Thanks!

 
At January 28, 2012 at 5:31:00 PM EST , Anonymous Sheldon Mohl said...

Having been fortunate to be an American citizen, I just shake my head in amazement at what some people will do to rip off unsuspecting people genuinely interested in becoming USA citizens.

 
At February 8, 2012 at 5:08:00 AM EST , Anonymous memorymakers.com.pl said...

Its wonderful that USCIS is making such an effort to make people aware.However,down the road USCIS should also develop a system like IRS has allowed registered Tax preparors to file returns.This will eliminate the existing problem USCIS has and will help those who do not have strong command on english or not very computer literate to file on line applications.It appears as USCIS is putting cart infront of the horse

 
At April 15, 2012 at 5:27:00 AM EDT , Blogger kingkinu said...

Hello, I'm a Japanese and going to apply an student visa in USA. Last month, I met a broker and he charged me a lot. This information is really useful for me.
Sincerely-
Kingkinu from 中古車査定

 
At May 24, 2012 at 7:14:00 PM EDT , Anonymous jhon said...

Thank you for your concern. Those rogues must be dealt with!!!

 
At July 5, 2012 at 6:53:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Bill said...

The major problem is that, they provide assistance. And, which is very helpful. They have everything to attract people. I know that's bad, and they probably use some wrong aspects, but in understanding legal terms, sometimes that thing become helpful too. But, the advice you give, should be in every one mind. Because, many time we do great blunders because of the third parties.

 
At October 19, 2012 at 7:16:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck to the Author! All the best.
Aufsperrdienst Wien

 
At January 20, 2013 at 11:22:00 AM EST , Anonymous serly said...

hai, i'm a Indonesian and going to apply an student visa in USA. Last month, I met a broker and he charged me a lot. This information is really useful for me.

 
At February 12, 2013 at 3:34:00 PM EST , Anonymous ronald said...

Thank you for rising the awareness of people I'm sure this will come in handy and will help individuals from being tricked by such agencies.

 
At March 1, 2013 at 9:54:00 AM EST , Anonymous toko jilbab said...

I'm Indonesian. I want to get American Citizenship. May I know the following questions:
1. How can I become a United States citizen?
2. How do I become a naturalized citizen?

thanks.

 
At August 23, 2013 at 12:00:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Cipto Junaedy said...

Hai, please answer my question:
1. How do I become a naturalized citizen?
2. What are the requirements for naturalization?
3. When does my time as a Permanent Resident begin?
4. What form do I use to file for naturalization?

 
At September 30, 2013 at 5:53:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Kealoha said...

Got fooled into a EIN tax ID site before, and I lost $180. These sites are out there to get your money so beware.

 
At November 4, 2013 at 9:10:00 AM EST , Anonymous kandungan asi sebebnarnya said...

Thanks to USCIS for raising this issue,I almost became a victim too when I filed for my wife and son about five years ago,I think ,in this case the USCIS have all the needed power to let this scam and so called private helping companies stop using the LOGO of USCIS and the search (engine) of USCIS.Because any time you click to search for USCIS web page

 
At December 8, 2013 at 7:31:00 PM EST , Anonymous Prana Asmara said...

a couple of queries:
1. How can I become a United States citizen?
2. Who is born a United States citizen?
3. How do I become a naturalized citizen?
4. What are the requirements for naturalization?
5. When does my time as a Permanent Resident begin?
6. What form do I use to file for naturalization?

 
At December 26, 2013 at 9:32:00 PM EST , Anonymous Digital Agency said...

Thanks to USCIS for raising this issue,I almost became a victim too when I filed for my wife and son about five years ago,I think ,in this case the USCIS have all the needed power to let this scam and so called private helping companies stop using the LOGO of USCIS and the search (engine) of USCIS.Because any time you click to search for USCIS web page

 
At April 21, 2014 at 5:11:00 AM EDT , Anonymous susan said...

There already are people licensed by the government to help you fill out USCIS forms. They are immigration attorneys!
Also, if you have used legal services from someone not licensed to provide those services and you have lost money that way, you may be able to get it back. There is a new law that allows you to sue those people and make them pay for the lawyer who helps you sue them too.

 
At August 25, 2014 at 3:46:00 AM EDT , Anonymous nhiệt kế điện tử giá bao nhiêu said...

Thank you for rising the awareness of people I'm sure this will come in handy and will help individuals from being tricked by such agencies.
This information is really useful for me !

 

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