Immigration Law Scams

Ever since President Donald Trump’s administration began cracking down on immigrants, there has been an increased fear of deportation. This has led to an uptick in demand for assistance with immigration issues, but also in fraudulent immigration counseling services. The problem is particularly severe in places like Chicago, which is considered a sanctuary city and attracts a large number of immigrants.

Immigration law is complex and difficult to navigate for even a trained practitioner, so it is not surprising that there has been an increase in immigration law scams and mistakes made by legitimate immigration service providers. Complicating the situation is the fear and confusion that have resulted from the changing executive orders on immigration enforcement policies and what they mean for U.S. immigrants.

Common ways that immigration scams can occur include:

  • Using falsified documents
  • Setting up a fake immigration agency
  • Scams for visa lottery claims
  • Scams by notary publics

If you are accused of perpetuating an immigration scam in Illinois, it is a serious situation, since a conviction can lead to jail time and negatively impact your life forever.  At this sensitive time, you need the best legal assistance available.

The knowledgeable and compassionate Illinois criminal law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., offer aggressive representation for clients facing immigration scam charges.  We know the courts and the criminal justice system, and how to plea bargain, negotiate guidelines and recognize when to take your case to trial.  We offer a free consultation to discuss your individual case and your options, so call 630-305-0222 today to schedule your free initial consultation to determine how we can best fight for your rights and your freedom.

What Are Illinois Immigration Counseling Rules?

Illinois has state requirements for immigration service providers; however, frightened immigrants seeking advice are frequently not aware of the requirements or what their rights are.  Regulations include:

1) Who may provide services

Anyone providing immigration assistance services who is not a licensed attorney or a representative of a nonprofit organization recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals must register as an Immigration Services Provider with the Illinois Attorney General’s office. Providers must verify they have malpractice insurance or a surety bond.

While immigrants often assume that Notaries Public are just below attorneys, this is not the case. Registered notaries, travel agents or insurance agents may provide assistance in preparing forms and give English or civics instruction, but may not give advice on immigration or other legal matters.

2) Requirements for Providers

Providers of Immigration Services are limited as follows. They:

  • Cannot obtain special favors with the Office of Homeland Security (S. immigration services) or any other government agency
  • Cannot refuse to return prepared or paid-for documents if asked
  • Must provide contracts in both English and the immigrant’s native language that explains the services and charges
  • Must provide a copy of the signed contract
  • Cannot retain money for services not performed
  • Must state in the contract that the immigrant has 72 hours or three business days (excluding Sunday) after signing to cancel the contract and how to do so.

3) Fees

Immigration Services Providers are allowed to charge the following fees:

  • $10 per immigration form completion
  • $10 per page for the translation of a non-English language into English if required
  • $1 for notarizing immigration forms
  • $3 to perform any procedures necessary to obtain a document required to complete immigration forms
  • A maximum of $75 for one complete immigration application.

Providers may also charge $5 per classroom-hour for English or civics courses. For all other         services, they may charge not more than $5 per quarter hour ($20 per hour).

4) Required Signage

Immigration Services Providers must post signs in English and the languages in which they provide assistance. The signs must disclose the fees charged, state the three-day right of cancellation, and explain that the Provider is not an attorney and cannot give legal advice.

Chicago’s Welcoming City Ordinance

Since October 2016, Chicago has an ordinance that prohibits city employees from questioning an individual’s immigration status and threatening deportation. However, the Chicago Police Department is allowed to collaborate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement if targeted individuals are in the city’s gang database, have a pending felony prosecution or prior felony convictions, according to the ordinance.

There is also a hotline for residents who are victims of fraud due to their immigration status. Victims can call anonymously, and not have Federal authorities contacted.

What Are My Rights When Accused?

If you are accused of an immigration crime in Illinois, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court.  You have a right to a jury trial, but you may waive this right and have a trial before a judge.  You have the right to be represented by an attorney to represent your interests.

In a criminal case, the prosecutor’s job is to prove that you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.  If there is a trial, all admissible facts must be fairly considered by the judge or jury to make this determination. You and your attorney do not have to prove that you are innocent; you only need to show that the prosecution has not proved the case to be “a moral certainty.”

Put Your Trust In Us — Contact Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. for a Free Consultation.

The immigration scam defense lawyers at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. are skilled trial lawyers who believe each case is unique, with its own set of circumstances. We examine the facts, the individuals involved, and the evidence available, and work hand in hand with our clients throughout the criminal process to come up with an effective defense strategy. Our goal is always to minimize the negative impact of the situation and to focus on protecting your freedoms, liberties and rights.

We are aggressive litigators and will work with you to answer all your questions and make sure you fully understand the facts surrounding your case.  We represent clients in DuPage County, Naperville, Aurora, Wheaton, Downers Grove and Bolingbrook, and the greater Chicagoland area.

Delaying can only make your situation worse, so call 630-305-0222 today to schedule your free initial consultation.

Attorney Marc Wolfe

Marc Wolfe has been representing clients in criminal matters in Chicago and the entire State of Illinois for over 30 years. Mr. Wolfe has tried over 300 cases to verdict and represents clients facing investigation or prosecution for a broad range of state and federal criminal offenses, including murder, embezzlement, sexual abuse, drugs, marijuana and white collar crimes. [ Attorney Bio ]