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How to avoid an immigration scam

When you want to work or live in the U.S., you may do whatever it takes to make your dream come true. You understand the process takes lots of time and effort, so you appreciate any help that comes your way.

Unfortunately, many criminals take advantage of your feelings and try to trick you into giving them money. Be aware of the ways they may try to scam you so you can avoid losing money and hurting your immigration case.

Fraudulent emails

One of the most common forms of fraud is through email. Scammers can copy the logos and formatting of government emails and use an email address that seems real. Things to look for include the following:

  • Domain: The email address of the sender should end in “.gov” if it is from the government. This ending is more important than what comes before the “at” symbol. However, scammers can still fake these addresses. When in doubt, contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services directly to confirm the email is legitimate.
  • English: An obvious giveaway of a fake email is grammar and spelling mistakes. If your English reading is not strong, ask a native speaker to review the email.
  • Money: A red flag that you should not trust the email is a request for money. The government will never ask you to pay an individual or purchase forms and will not allow you to pay using wire transfers, PayPal or similar methods. Online payments are acceptable through your USCIS account. You can also pay through regular mail or in person at a USCIS office.
  • Links: Links inside the email may be the same as ones for real government sites. To be safe, never click on the link in the email. Instead, type the URL into your browser.
  • Visas: The government will not notify you of approval for a visa through email. You will always receive paper confirmation.

Other scams

While emails are most popular, fraud can also occur by phone or postal mail. These usually focus on asking you for money for services or information.