The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is aware of the fact that some private parties are selling free USCIS forms and Infopass appointments for profit. In a recent blog post, USCIS reminded immigrants of such activities, but fell short of calling them fraudulent.
These services are offered free of charge by USCIS, but they do cost money. To design all the forms and to maintain local offices where infopass appointments take place aren’t necessarily cheap.
Immigrants are effectively paying for these services through application fees.
But some are tricked into paying more, by falling prey to websites and individuals who somehow manage to sell them.
Although selling USCIS forms is not nearly on the same level as green lottery scams yet, it is still troublesome.
USCIS can do more to raise awareness among unsuspecting immigrants, not only to save them money, but also to minimize their chances of using outdated USCIS forms, which can have severe consequences. Here are five suggestions:
- On all USCIS forms, clearly indicate they are available for free, as shown in the image above. Free advertising for uscis.gov as well:
- Convert more applications to electronic filing, which would eliminate or greatly reduce the need for downloading forms. E-file offers numerous benefits, not limited to detering fraud.
- Make all PDF forms fillable, save-able and user friendly. This should help people who may be knowingly looking for better alternatives to save time. Also update expiring forms with new expiration dates or replace them with new versions in a timely manner.
- Educate immigrants with information on unethical vs. illegal practices, and encourage them to report fraud.
- Make all USCIS forms copyright protected. As a federal government agency, USCIS may have to work with a private organization to do this. But if implemented, it will enable them to pursue legal actions if they have to.
Our only advice to immigrants is very simple:
Just don’t download any USCIS forms from anywhere but uscis.gov!