Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida


USCIS and IRS Warn of Scams

Dilip Patel


Several scams have been targeting foreign nationals. In September, USCIS warned the public of a new telephone scam that targets USCIS customers. The scammer poses as a USCIS official and requests personal information such as Social Security number, passport number, or A-number, identifies supposed issues in the recipient’s immigration records, and asks for payment to correct these records. According to USCIS, it never asks for any form of payment or personal information over the phone. If you believe you may have been targeted by this scam, you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission at More recently, the IRS warns of a scam involving IRS Form W-SBEN (Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding. Fraudsters are targeting non-residents of the U.S. and are using the W-8BEN format to obtain personal data.

Remaining an Optimist on CIR

In an effort to jumpstart stalled comprehensive immigration reform deliberations, the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives introduced their version of a comprehensive immigration reform bill on Oct. 2. “The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act,” is modeled after S.744, the Senate bill that passed that chamber in late June. The introduction of the H.R.15 was part of an orchestrated series of events, including marches and vigils that took place across the country to remind the public that immigration reform is among the many pieces of business that remain unfinished while Congress is in fiscal lockdown. While perhaps more symbolic than realistic – the bill is unlikely go anywhere given the Republican House members’ preference for piecemeal legislation and a refusal to vote for any measure that includes a pathway for citizenship for the undocumented – it is at least an important step toward keeping immigration reform in the conversation. Nevertheless, the stalemate on immigration continues, as does other important legislative matters.

To recap where we are on immigration reform: In late June, the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) bill, a sweeping and long overdue overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws. For months since its passage, the House of Representatives dragged its collective feet to consider the bill. Instead, four piecemeal bills were approved by House committees, but have yet to be sent to the full House of Representatives for a floor vote, and none addresses legalization. Then, in mid-September, two House Republicans who had been trying to draft a comprehensive immigration package dropped out of bipartisan negotiations. Texas Republican Reps John Carter and Sam Johnson said that they had “reached a tipping point” in the talks and could no longer continue working on a broad approach to rewrite the country’s immigration laws. Their leaving basically dismantled the so-called Gang of Seven bipartisan group in the House that has struggled to draft legislation. H.R. 15 has no Republican sponsors.

Meanwhile, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has promised action on immigration reform legislation and has been working on four separate bills in addition to the four already approved by the committee. Optimists note that a piecemeal approach could result in House approval of a series of bills that could lead to negotiations with the Senate on a compromise immigration reform bill. Pessimists, on the other hand, point to the remarks of House Speaker John Boehner, who has expressed reluctance to bring the bill to a vote. The refusal appears to be an acknowledgment of the so-called “Hastert Rule,” a principle used to limit voting to only those bills supported by a majority of the majority party. This is the same rule that has prevented a vote in the full House of Representatives on a “clean” continuing resolution to keep the government open from going forward.

Finding congressional common ground on the various immigration reform bills seems formidable – it always is – but a bigger obstacle may be the full agenda still awaiting lawmakers, including the budget and debt ceiling. According to one insider, the chance of CIR becoming law in 2013 is zero percent; the chance of enactment in 2014 is greater than zero. Reform has to happen; it is now a question of when.

USCIS Tries Again: Implementation of CIV Begins at District Offices

As previously reported, foreign nationals will be required to submit fingerprints and photographs when appearing at USCIS field offices for interviews or to receive evidence of an immigration benefit. USCIS had planned to begin this new biometrics requirement, Customer Identity Verification (CIV), in May but encountered various glitches and delayed implementation. The CIV requirement is in addition to the current collection of biometrics data at an Application Support Center (ASC).

Now, after the foreign national arrives at a field office, clears security, and is called to the counter, USCIS will electronically scan two fingerprints and take a picture to verify identity.

After identity verification is satisfactorily completed, individuals will proceed to their interviews or be issued their immigration documents. In instances where biometrics do not produce a verification, other steps will be taken, which may include reprocessing at an application support center or even further questioning if an identity is suspicious.  

Clients are advised that some district offices have experienced delays as a result of the new CIV process and should arrive early for their appointment and expect to wait.

Dilip Patel of Shutts & Bowen LLP, a Florida Bar board-certified expert on immigration law, can be reached at (813) 227-8178 or e-mail

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