An­other green card scam: Fake ap­proval no­tices

The Philippine Star - - OPINION - MICHAEL J. GURFINKEL, ESQ

Sev­eral peo­ple have con­sulted with me, ask­ing whether the ap­proval let­ter they re­ceived was gen­uine. While the no­tice has the open­ing sen­tence, “WEL­COME TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMER­ICA,” which is how an ad­just­ment of sta­tus ap­proval no­tice typ­i­cally starts, these ap­proval no­tices are fake and peo­ple should be care­ful that they are also not scammed.

Ap­par­ently, there is an im­mi­gra­tion con­sul­tancy group in Las Ve­gas, claim­ing to be as­so­ci­ated with an en­tity that sounds like it is a law firm, but is ac­tu­ally a lim­ited li­a­bil­ity cor­po­ra­tion han­dling man­age­ment con­sul­tancy. But still, it looks like the per­son is be­ing rep­re­sented by an im­mi­gra­tion law firm. In one case, a Filipino was charged over $22,500 for le­gal ser­vices, which in­cluded the prom­ise of a green card.

Af­ter pay­ing the money, the per­son re­ceived a no­tice from USCIS to be fin­ger­printed for work au­tho­riza­tion. They even went down to the USCIS and had their fin­ger­prints taken. This con­vinced the per­son that the fil­ing must have been le­git­i­mate, as USCIS was al­ready fin­ger­print­ing them for work per­mit.

How­ever, this was merely part of the scam, to make the per­son feel that the fil­ing by the con­sul­tancy firm was le­git­i­mate. In re­al­ity, the con­sul­tancy firm ap­par­ently had filed an ap­pli­ca­tion for po­lit­i­cal asy­lum for the per­son, be­cause the work au­tho­riza­tion code on the fin­ger­print no­tice was “C08,” which is the code for work au­tho­riza­tion when a per­son has a pend­ing po­lit­i­cal asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tion.

Af­ter be­ing fin­ger­printed for work au­tho­riza­tion, the work au­tho­riza­tion card it­self never ar­rived. Phone calls were never re­turned, and when they fi- nally got in touch with the con­sul­tancy firm, they were given the run around and many ex­cuses.

Ul­ti­mately, they re­ceived an “ap­proval” no­tice for ad­just­ment of sta­tus, even though they were not el­i­gi­ble for ad­just­ment of sta­tus. This no­tice had the fa­mil­iar “WEL­COME TO THE UNITED STATES” greet­ing, but was so fake and bo­gus in so many other re­spects.

• The ap­pli­ca­tion or re­ceipt num­ber starts with the let­ters ZNY. This is a code for an asy­lum of­fice in New York. It also shows a Ser­vice Cen­ter of “ESC,” which does not ex­ist.

• Although this no­tice pur­ports to grant per­ma­nent res­i­dency, it also re­minds peo­ple they may “re­quest to change employers” if their ad­just­ment ap­pli­ca­tion had been pend­ing for over 180 days. This is a non-sen­si­ble ref­er­ence to pro­vi­sions of the Amer­i­can Com­pet­i­tive­ness Act of the 21st Cen­tury (AC- 21) for em­ploy­ment based pe­ti­tions, which would have no bear­ing on a case that has al­ready been ap­proved.

• Also, to be el­i­gi­ble for ad­just­ment of sta­tus, there should have been some un­der­ly­ing pe­ti­tion or ap­pli­ca­tion that had been filed and ap­proved, with a cur­rent pri­or­ity date. USCIS doesn’t sim­ply “ap­prove” green cards with­out any un­der­ly­ing ba­sis.

The peo­ple who fell for this scam are out thou­sands of dollars. More im­por­tantly, the scam artists seem to have filed for po­lit­i­cal asy­lum to get a fin­ger­print ap­point­ment, so as to fool the peo­ple into think­ing some­thing le­git­i­mate had ac­tu­ally been filed with USCIS.

But now, USCIS could move for­ward on the asy­lum claim, call the per­son in for in­ter­view, deny the asy­lum, put the per­son in de­por­ta­tion/re­moval, and they could be or­dered re­moved. In ad­di­tion, the con­sul­tant may be hav­ing these no­tices sent to the con­sul­tant’s ad­dress, and they may not for­ward the asy­lum or de­por­ta­tion no­tices to the per­son. Years later, the per­son may be shocked to find they had been or­dered de­ported when ei­ther they ap­ply for a le­git­i­mate im­mi­gra­tion ben­e­fits or ICE knocks at their door.

If you have been a vic­tim of this green card scam, you should seek the ad­vice of a le­git­i­mate and rep­utable at­tor­ney, who might pos­si­bly be able to undo the dam­age of this bo­gus, fraud­u­lent fil­ing. WEB­SITE: www.gurfinkel.com Fol­low us on Face­book.com/GurfinkelLaw and Twit­ter @GurfinkelLaw Four of­fices to serve you: PHILIP­PINES: 8940258 or 8940239; LOS AN­GE­LES; SAN FRAN­CISCO; NEW YORK: TOLL FREE NUM­BER: 1-866-GURFINKEL (1-866-487-3465)

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