An immigration scam is doing the rounds in Boston, promising undocumented Irish a green card within six months for a fee of $14,000.
The Irish Pastoral Center in Massachusetts (IPC) was contacted last week by Irish immigrants who shared their concern about a person who claimed to be able to provide them with a work authorization card and subsequent green card through a section of the law called 245(i).
An “agent” told several undocumented Irish people living in the Boston area that they could simply adjust their status if they paid an upfront fee of $7,500. A further fee of $7,500 would secure them a green card, putting them on the path to citizenship.
Kieran O’Sullivan, immigration counselor at the IPC, and pro bono immigration attorney Chris Lavery did a little investigation into the alleged promise of a green card and discovered it to be a scam.
The scammer, who has not been named, told undocumented Irish people that petitions filed prior to April 2001 on an immigration section called 245(i) were still active and could be transferable.
Lavery told the Irish Voice on Tuesday that although there are several 245(i) cases still in the works, it is no longer possible to transfer over an application.
“These so called agents, one here in Boston and one in New York, were telling these Irish people that they could get them green cards by a sort of blanket petition that could be transferred to another individual,” said Lavery.
After doing a little research and contacting the so-called agents, Lavery discovered that they were doing nothing but scamming these young immigrants out of a lot of money.
One of the warning signs, said Lavery, was the substantial amount of money being asked for by the bogus agents.
The agents told the undocumented that they had a dozen visas that could be transferred to new individuals. They were initially promised a work authorization card for $7,500 and a green card within six months for another $7,500.
None of the immigrants who contacted the IPC had handed over any money.
Calls to the agents from Lavery and O’Sullivan at the IPC were not returned early this week.
New York immigration attorney Jim O’Malley told the Irish Voice on Tuesday that “these sort of scams come up all the time.”
“First off, unless a person applied for the 245(i) before April 2001 they cannot avail of the law, so this immediately tells us it’s a scam if the person is promising to transfer it. That’s not possible anymore,” said O’Malley.
“My advice to anyone who comes across this sort of thing is to get a second and a third opinion,” said O’Malley.
O’Sullivan told the Irish Voice that it’s imperative for undocumented Irish to be aware of such scams and to always seek advice.
“I’d advise any Irish living in New York to contact their local immigration center if in doubt. If is seems too good to be true it could be, so check it out before handing over any money,” said O’Sullivan.
Lavery said that although the immigrants may get work authorization cards in a few months, they would have to deal with the possibility of being deported when they tried to go about getting their “green card.”
“These people were setting the immigrants up for a bad fall while trying to get rich,” said Lavery.
The 245(i) section of the immigration law allowed a person to become a permanent resident of the U.S. without leaving the country through a process called “adjustment of status.” That provision lapsed in April of 2001.