Beware of Immigration Scams
Many people offer help with immigration services. Unfortunately, not all are authorized to do so, and the wrong help can hurt. Sometimes people are just trying to get personal information from you. This is against the law and may be considered an immigration services scam. USCIS/USDHS or other US government agencies DO NOT call international visitors asking for money or request to meet at locations other than the agency itself. Please be aware of this scam targeting international scholars and report any incidents immediately. Remember reporting scams will not affect your immigration status or pending applications. Also, many US states allow you to report scams anonymously. See examples of common scams.
Reporting Immigration Scams
1) Report the incident to the UC San Diego Police Department by calling 858-534-4357.
2) Report the incident to US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) by completing the online form at the USCIS Avoid Scams website: www.uscis.gov
Protecting Your Personal Identity: 5 Helpful Tips
Here are 5 helpful tips for protecting your personal identity:
- Be wary of giving your personal information to a person, agency, or company that contacts you (as opposed to one you contact). Never give your Social Security number, date of birth, mother’s maiden name, credit card number, bank PIN codes or passwords. Ask the person to give you a number you can call to verify his/her identity and ask the person to send you any information they would like you to consider in writing.
- Do not give your personal information to anyone, unless you know who you are giving it to and why they need the information.
- Keep your important papers secure, shred documents with sensitive information before you put them in the trash, and limit the personal information you carry with you in your wallet, purse, or bag.
- Pick up your mail daily to minimize the risk of it being stolen. Place outgoing mail in a US Postal Service mail receptacle rather than your own mailbox.
- Maintain appropriate security on your computers and other electronic devices. Never give out personal information unless you are using a secure website. You may determine if a website is secure by looking at the beginning of the web address in your browser's address bar. It should read "https://" instead of "http://". You may also look to the bottom right of your screen for a padlock symbol.
The following is a partial list of immigration attorneys, some of whom practice immigration law in San Diego. This list is provided for your information and does not mean that the International Center or the University of California, San Diego endorses any of these attorneys or accepts any liability for information or services they provide.
Leah Hurwitz (619) 239-7855
Gerald Linkon* (619) 338-9898
Kathrin Mautino (619) 235-9177
Ivan Mendelsohn (619) 491-9491
*International Center Counseling Attorney
Additional names of immigration attorneys are available through the San Diego County Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Services (619) 231-8585.
AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association): Go to the “Find a Lawyer” tab. Then under “Type of lawyer” you will most likely want to search “Naturalization” if you are interested in filing a permanent residency application.
UC San Diego policy
UCSD has strict policies that prohibit the use of outside attorneys for any immigration matter related to employment at UCSD. Experienced attorneys will ask you to check with the International Center before they agree to provide any services that involve representation of UCSD.
Choosing an attorney
Before selecting an attorney, here is a list of questions you should consider:
- Does the attorney primarily practice in the area of immigration law?
- How many years has the attorney been practicing immigration law?
- What kind of experience does the attorney have with the specific type of case you have?
- What is the attorney's honest appraisal of the likelihood of success with your case? Be wary of anyone who "guarantees" you success.
- Is there any initial consultation fee? Some attorneys do not charge for the initial office visit, but may spend only a few minutes with you. Others may charge a fee and give you a more in-depth interview.
- How much are the fees for his/her services? Some attorneys have an hourly charge; others have a fixed fee, depending on the type of case.
- Will you be working directly with that attorney? Some will turn your case over to an associate or a legal assistant after the initial interview.
- Is the attorney a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association? If not, it is very unlikely that s/he is actively practicing immigration law.
- Can the attorney give you the name of a international student advisor who can comment on the quality of his/her work?
- Does everything you know about this attorney tell you that this person is knowledgeable and competent to handle your specific type of case?
- Does everything you know about this attorney tell you that this person is ethical and honest in relations with clients?
- Are you comfortable with the attorney's style and personality?
- Are the fees comparable to other attorney's fees? If not, why not? The lowest fee does not necessarily indicate the best deal. The highest fee does not necessarily indicate the best service.
If you still have questions about the attorney's background and qualifications, contact the California State Bar Association (415-538-2000) for specific details about a particular attorney.
Know your rights
The safety and security of our scholars is a top priority; it is important that you know your rights and how you can be proactive in having a safe and rewarding experience at UC San Diego. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) provides tips for interacting with law enforcement and government agencies as well as understanding your rights: