KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
Know your rights. Protect yourself. Avoid being scammed!
- Never pay for blank government forms. Government forms are free.
- You can get FREE immigration forms at www.uscis.gov/forms, or by calling USCIS at 1-800-870-3676, or by visiting your local USCIS office.
- You only have to pay when you submit forms to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
- Always ask for someone's credentials before you hire him or her.
- Ask if the person is a licensed attorney, an accredited representative or an immigration consultant. Only a licensed attorney can provide legal services.
- To check if someone is a licensed attorney in good standing in Maryland, contact the Client Protection Fund at (410) 260-3635 or at http://www.courts.state.md.us/cpf/attylist.html.
- To check if someone is an accredited representative, go to www.justice.gov/eoir/ra.html.
- Never let anyone keep your original documents, like your birth certificate or passport. Scammers may demand you pay to get them back.
- Always keep a copy of every form that you submit, as well as every letter from the government about your application or petition.
- Never sign a form before it has been filled out, or a form that contains false information. Never sign a document that you don't understand.
- Always get a receipt from USCIS when you turn in your paperwork. Keep it! It proves that USCIS received your application. You will need the receipt to check on the status of your application so be sure you get a copy.
- Never pay for services before they are performed.
Maryland passed the Immigration Consulting Services Act in 2005. This bill prohibits unauthorized persons from providing legal services to noncitizens and people seeking to sponsor a noncitizen. It also requires an immigration consultant to provide you with a detailed written contract before she or he assists; and it requires an immigration consultant to post certain notices at his or her place of business, plus much more. Access the law here.
This is a national problem! Click here to read our press release from June 2011 about a crackdown against one Maryland business and a nationwide, multi-agency campaign to combat immigration services scams.
In Spanish, the term "notario" refers to someone who can provide certain limited legal services. In English, the term "notary" refers to someone who can officially witness and authenticate signatures on documents. In the United States, a notary is NOT authorized to provide legal advice or services of any kind.
For free copies of immigration forms, visit www.uscis.gov/forms.