Green card scams are illegal attempts by unscrupulous attorneys, businesses, or other persons to cheat immigrants out of money by making untrue claims about how they can get immigrants green cards. This is not the same as green card fraud, where the immigrant is the one making untrue claims in an attempt to get a green card.

What is the Most Common Green Card Scam?

The most common green card scam involves the INS green card lottery system. Persons engaged in this type of green card fraud make a number of claims, including that they:

  • Can raise an immigrant's chances of winning the green card lottery;
  • Have certain expertise, which is required to submit a lottery application;
  • Need more money to specially process winning applications; or
  • Are connected with the United States government.

What are the Consequences of Falling for a Green Card Scam?

In addition to having paid money for services that are not actually possible, victims of green card scams may be entirely disqualified from the green card lottery. This can happen if the scam artist submits multiple applications to the lottery for a single immigrant. An immigrant can also be disqualified if the scam results in delays to the application, since green cards are issued first-come, first-serve.

How Do I Protect Myself from a Green Card Scam?

The most effective way to protect yourself from a green card scam is to be aware of the following facts about the green card lottery:

  • There is no cost to apply to the lottery
  • Applying for the lottery does not need special expertise and can be done by following the instructions on the U.S. State Department's website
  • There is no way to raise your chances for winning the lottery because winners are chose at random and you can only submit one application to the lottery

Do I Need an Attorney if I am a Victim of a Green Card Scam?

If you think you have been the victim of a green card scam, it may be very important to speak to an immigration attorney. An immigration attorney can advise you of your rights and any possible legal remedies you may have.