ANTI-FRAUD Advocacy Toolkit for Naturalization Collaboratives

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1 A ANTI-FRAUD Advocacy Toolkit for Naturalization Collaboratives

2 Contents Why should naturalization service providers be involved in educating clients about immigration fraud?... 1 List and description of ILRC immigration fraud prevention materials provided with this toolkit... 3 Talking points for a ten-minute presentation about immigration fraud prevention... 4 Script for a 30-second radio public service announcement (PSA)... 8 Additional materials can be downloaded at

3 Why should naturalization service providers be involved in educating clients about immigration fraud? As a member organization in a naturalization collaborative, you might well be asking this question. Here s why your organization should involve itself in this issue: Immigration fraud is a pervasive, ongoing threat to immigrants all over the U.S. Unscrupulous scam artists working with immigrant clients under the guise of legal services can render their clients ineligible for an immigration benefit or, even worse, in detention or deported. o Educating clients about the common scams that notarios and others employ, as well as the risks and consequences they bring, may prevent immigrants from falling victim to these schemes. By providing naturalization services, you have the opportunity to reach numerous lawful permanent residents (LPRs) and by extension their immigrant family and community members to warn them of the risks posed by working with fraudulent and unscrupulous immigration notarios and attorneys. o Many, if not most, LPRs live in mixed immigration status households, with some in the family Page 1 Prepared by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center A

4 undocumented, some LPRs and some, mostly the younger children, U.S. citizens. o The primary motivation for many LPRs seeking U.S. citizenship is the desire to immigrate their family members without the long waits required for LPR family visa petitions under the preference system. o By warning LPRs about the dangers of immigration fraud, you will be reaching not only the LPR, but every other immigrant in his family and a good many in his local community as well. People need to be directed to reputable organizations that can assist them with quality legal services, review their situations, and help them to avoid the many potential pitfalls that can result from filing an immigrant visa application. o There is a space for your logo to be stamped in both the anti immigration fraud comic books and on the anti immigration fraud posters we have provided (see descriptions below). Therefore these materials are not only a tool to help clients avoid fraudulent practitioners; they are also an excellent means to advertise your services and enhance your organization s profile in the communities you serve. Page 2 Prepared by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center A

5 List and Description of ILRC Fraud Prevention Materials provided with this Toolkit 1. Anti-Immigration Fraud Posters (in Spanish, Chinese, and English): for distribution on the premises of each collaborative member organization, as well as in neighborhoods where immigrants congregate, such as churches, health clinics, local grocery stores, libraries, and social service agencies. 2. Anti-Immigration Fraud Comic Books/Graphic Novels (in Spanish and Chinese, with English translations of both, warning people of typical fraud scenarios to avoid): To be disseminated to collaborative member organizations individual clients, at group processing events, and in the same locations as the posters. Note that the Spanish and Chinese versions do not contain the exact same scenarios; rather they are tailored to reflect scams that are typically directed at these two very different communities. Page 3 Prepared by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center A

6 Talking Points for a Presentation about Immigration Fraud Prevention (Presenter to read or paraphrase) Good morning/afternoon. Thanks for coming here today to learn how to apply for U.S. citizenship. Before we get started, though, we want to tell you about a very important issue for yourself and especially for your families. We know that one reason you may want to become a U.S. Citizen is to immigrate a spouse, child or other family member faster, and may therefore be going through another immigration petition process soon. For that reason, we want to warn you that not everyone who offers immigration services is honest, and help you recognize who is a legal services provider that you can trust. We want to talk to you about the ways that some immigration providers, including some lawyers, trick people into signing papers that won t actually get them a green card and may even get them deported. We want to warn you so that you and your families can prevent that from happening. Choosing someone to help you and your family with immigration papers is a very important decision, and like all important decisions you have to be careful to choose wisely. For example, you would probably think very carefully about whom you would allow to care for your child. I am sure that you would want to know that person s background and if they could be trusted. In the same way, when you look for someone to help with your immigration papers, make sure the person you choose is both honest and competent. Remember that the person offering to help you is providing you with a service. Just like when paying for any other service, you have the right to know the person s credentials, the amount you re going to be charged, and the service methods that person will use. Immigration consultants in the United States sometimes also call themselves notarios. An immigration consultant is not a licensed attorney, and can only help you complete forms that you have already chosen to complete, verify signatures, and make free referrals to lawyers who can provide legal representation. In the United States, notarios are not allowed to give legal advice, or represent clients in courts or in immigration interviews. In California, it is illegal for immigration consultants to refer to themselves as notarios, to make false or misleading statements, or make any guarantees or promises that are not based on any factual information. Page 4 Prepared by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center A

7 If you do choose to pay someone to help you with your immigration papers, there are many different scams, or tricks, that dishonest immigration consultants, notarios and some lawyers use to make people believe they will get green cards. For example, they may tell you: I offer no risk immigration. I can get U.S. visas for you and your family in a few weeks. I can get you a work permit right away. I know people at immigration and can get your papers done quickly. These are Lies! Don t trust your immigration papers to anyone who tells you any of these things! Today we will be passing out some comic books that describe some of the more common immigration scams, so that you know what to watch out for, but in general, here are some things you can do to protect yourself and your family from immigration scams: Never sign any blank application papers. Never sign any paper or immigration form that you do not completely understand. (Get someone you trust to translate it for you.) Always demand a written contract for any immigration services when you are not working with a recognized agency. Do not sign a contract that you don't understand. Make sure that you know how much your case will cost from the very beginning. Watch out for anyone who wants you to pay immediately. Always get copies of the papers prepared for you. Never let anyone keep your original documents (example: birth certificates, marriage certificates). Get a receipt for any money you pay. (Make sure it has the amount paid, the date paid, your name, and the name of the person or business that you paid.) Never work with someone who will not answer your questions or return your calls. Now who in this room can tell me what are some common lies to watch out for? Who can tell me what are some of the things you can do to protect yourself from immigration scams? Page 5 Prepared by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center A

8 [Having your audience repeat back some of the information will reinforce the information, as well as make your presentation more interactive and more dynamic. You might even want to pretend to be a scam artist and act out a scenario with your audience.] Example of Anti-Fraud Skit: Presenter: My name is Consuelo Consulta and I can help you with your immigration papers. Client: Are you an attorney? Presenter: I am a notario and an expert in filing immigration papers. Tell me your situation. Client: I have lived here for 25 years, and now my son, who was born here, would like to immigrate me. Presenter: You have come to the right place! I can guarantee you that you will have your green card in 6 months. I will file an application for you for adjustment of status, with a visa petition, and all you have to pay is my fee + all the filing fees. Client: What kind of papers should I sign? Presenter: Two forms, the application for adjustment of status and a visa petition. You also need to give me your original birth certificates, marriage certificate, and checks for my fees and the filing fees. Client: Don t we have to sign a contract? Presenter: Not necessary. Just sign the papers I have given you. What s wrong with this situation? 1. The consultant guarantees that the application will be a success. Anyone who makes such promises is suspicious, and as we ll see the promise is wrong: Page 6 Prepared by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center A

9 a. Parents of US citizens can immigrate through their children who are over 21, but they cannot adjust status if they entered the US illegally. The consultant never asks how the client entered the US therefore doesn t know whether or not the client is eligible for adjustment of status. b. A parent of a USC who entered without documents has to go to the US consulate in his or her home country to go to an immigrant visa interview. But leaving the country triggers a 10-year penalty against those who have lived in the US illegally, and parents of US citizens are not eligible for a waiver of that penalty 2. The consultant doesn t ask enough questions about the person s life. Some things, like criminal convictions, or immigration fraud, or a previous deportation, may cause an immigrant to be barred from immigrating. Unless the person helping you asks such questions, and determines whether you are is eligible to immigrate or not, it is dangerous to file any application. 3. The consultant says it s not necessary to have a contract. This is not true. 4. The consultant doesn t say what her fee is, and what amounts are for which applications. This leaves an opening for her to charge continuous fees, a practice that is very common. 5. The consultant asks for original documents, such as birth and marriage certificates. While she can ask to see them, she is not supposed to keep any originals. 6. The consultant tells the client to sign blank papers. This is not good. The client doesn t know how those papers will be filled out, and doesn t know what they re for, and hasn t had them explained to him. Page 7 Prepared by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center A

10 Script for a 30 Second Radio Public Service Announcement/PSA Need immigration help? Be careful! Immigration law is complicated and there are unscrupulous immigration consultants out there who may try to scam you. Some people will want to take your money and give you nothing. Some may not know what they re doing. You can even end up being deported! Make sure the person helping you can be trusted, and knows what they re talking about. Don t listen to rumors, even from people you know. Only 2 kinds of people are authorized by the US government to give you immigration advice. They are: Attorneys licensed by a state bar, and Certain people who work for non-profit organizations and have been authorized to represent people before the immigration authorities. A notario is not an attorney in the United States, and is not permitted to give immigration advice! Anyone other than a licensed attorney or authorized worker at a nonprofit organization may be dishonest, or incompetent. Don t trust anyone who says: Immigration is easy, or They can guarantee results, or They know someone in immigration who can fix your papers. Don t trust anyone who doesn t answer your questions, or won t explain things to you. Make sure you understand what must be done, and why, before you go ahead. Get a second opinion if you re not sure. For more information, contact: [insert your organization and contact information here] Page 8 Prepared by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center A

11 Script for a 30 Second Radio Public Service Announcement/PSA/Spanish Necesita ayuda de inmigración? Tenga cuidado! Las leyes de inmigración son complicadas y hay notarios de inmigración sin escrúpulos que tratarán de estafarlo. Algunas personas querrán quitarle su dinero y dejarlo sin nada. Algunos no saben lo que están haciendo. Usted incluso puede llegar a ser deportado! Asegúrese de que la persona que le esté ayudando es de confiar, y sabe de lo que está hablando. No le haga caso a los rumores. Sólo dos clases de personas están autorizadas por el gobierno de los Estados Unidos para dar consejos de inmigración. Ellos son: Abogados licenciados por la barra del estado, y Ciertas personas que trabajan para organizaciones sin fines de lucro que han sido autorizadas por el gobierno de los Estados Unidos para representar a las personas ante las autoridades de inmigración. Un notario no es un abogado en los Estados Unidos, y no esta autorizado para dar consejos acerca de asuntos migratorios! Cualquier persona que no sea un licenciado o trabajador en una organización sin fines de lucro autorizado por el gobierno puede ser deshonesta o incompetente. No confíe en nadie que le diga que: Las leyes de inmigración son fáciles, o Pueden garantizar resultados positivos, o Conocen a alguien en inmigración que le pueda arreglar sus papeles. No confíe en alguien que no responda a sus preguntas, o que no quiera explicarle las cosas. Asegúrese de entender lo que hay que hacer, y por qué, antes de seguir adelante. Obtenga una segunda opinión si no está seguro. Para obtener más información, póngase en contacto con [inserte su organización e información de contacto aquí] Page 9 Prepared by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center A

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