There are several types of immigration scams.
Sometimes, the con artists are part of a larger plan. As discussed in our previous article on immigration fraud, some schemes include conspiracies like consultants and lawyers who claim to have special inside connections.
Other times, the schemes are much smaller in scope. For instance, there are many legal advisers, supposedly specialists in permanent residence cases, who try to get you to lie or falsify documents.
- They might encourage you to change the date you entered the United States.
- They may tell you to say you were born in a different country.
- They may tell you to claim past persecution.
- They may even suggest for you to omit details of an arrest or marriage.
Avoiding this type of advice should be a no-brainer. Sadly, however, too many immigrants get caught in this trap.
A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a local community leader. She contacted me about her neighbor’s gardener.
He had an appointment to meet with immigration officials coming up soon. He knew the meeting was about his immigration papers. But that’s nearly all he understood.
He took the notice to one of his customers and asked if she could explain it to him. She told him that he was scheduled for an asylum interview.
“What’s asylum?” he asked her.
She asked him if his real name was Richard or Daniel. When he asked why, the woman told him that the immigration notice listed him as Richard. She had thought his name was Daniel.
Enough was enough.
She decided he needed to talk to an attorney.
There was more to Daniel’s story.
Once Daniel came to my Escondido immigration law office, I verified that he was from Honduras, not El Salvador. I learned he was 33, not 43, years old. I learned his father was still alive, not a victim of torture by the guerrillas.
Daniel was trapped.
He knew some, but not all, things written by his attorney many years ago. He truly did not comprehend what asylum meant. Yet, he was aware that his papers had given false information on his place of birth, date of birth, and real name.
His attorney had told him not to worry. He told Daniel that he had helped several hundreds of clients the same way.
On the second issue, his attorney wasn’t lying.
Seeing the attorney’s name on Daniel’s papers, I knew instantly what had taken place. Two years ago, his attorney had lost his license to practice law and been thrown in jail. He had been convicted of falsifying applications for over 30 immigrants. He was awaiting trial on about nearly 70 more cases of fraud.
The immigration officials surely knew the facts about his former attorney.
When it comes to submitting documents, the best advice is the simplest advice. Refuse to lie or make up facts on any documents you submit to the United States government.
An ethical lawyer will advise you about what you are not required to disclose. But he or she will also warn you not to lie about your home country, entry dates, marriages, arrests, or anything else.
Our government is very efficient when it comes to fact-finding.
Most likely, if you try to lie, they will learn the truth and you will be denied residency – and deported – with little hope of reversing the decision. You might even be charged with criminal fraud, leading to jail time and hefty fines.
Clearly, this is not how you want your immigration dreams to end.
Avoiding Immigration Fraud, Part 4, covering the Missing Details Ploy, is the fourth part of a five-part series on the most common immigration and green card scams perpetuated on unsuspecting mixed-status immigrant families. To read the full series, click here: If You’re Looking For Immigration Help: Beware Immigration Fraud.