USCIS Event to Raise Awareness of Immigration Scams

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency will host an event in Newark on December 1, bringing together some of the state’s immigration advocates to address the issue of scams perpetrated against immigrants.

The event will address such issues as internet fraud aimed at immigrants, common scams to watch out for and ways to avoid being defrauded, the Bergen Record reported. Representatives from groups such as the Federal Trade Commission, the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Metchuen will be in attendance.

Legal complaints have recently been filed against a number of New Jersey companies that officials say falsely advertised they had legal authorization to prepare U.S. immigration forms for clients, according to the Record. In June, complaints were filed against three companies, and four more complaints were lodged in September.

“This is not a new problem, but it’s a different way for us to fight it,” Katie Tichacek Kaplan, a USCIS public affairs officer, told the Record. “The big part of the issue is to bring awareness, and find ways to reach out to these different immigrant communities, who are the people most affected.”

The Newark event is part of The Unauthorized Practice of Immigration Law Initiative launched by the USCIS in conjunction with other federal agencies. The initiative’s webpage on the USCIS site lists several common scams to watch out for, and warns immigrants in need of help with document preparation to avoid businesses advertising themselves as “notarios.” While “publico notario” is a term used to denote skilled legal professionals in many Spanish-speaking countries, the term is often used by scammers to dupe victims in the United States.

Gustavo Ramirez, executive director of the Immigration & American Citizenship Organization, said he often works with immigrants who have been victimized by “notarios,” and told the Record he is glad the December 1 event will shine a light on this and other forms of fraud.