F-1 & J-1 Students: Be Careful – Scams on SEVIS

ByPhillip Kim

F-1 & J-1 Students: Be Careful – Scams on SEVIS

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Recently, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security
Investigations (HSI) has seen an increase in the number of scams targeting
unsuspecting international students. Cultural and language barriers often make
it difficult for international students to discern genuine offers for assistance from
scams, making them particularly vulnerable to deceitful solicitations.

For example, scams may take the form of all-inclusive student visa service packages or great deals on travel. Often students realize too late that the fees they paid to a company to organize their trip to the United States are lost forever or they have not been properly registered as promised by the scammer.

Scam companies will often produce websites or addresses that are similar in name to legitimate student organizations or government agencies. To avoid falling prey to these solicitations, students should carefully scrutinize websites and thoroughly
research companies before submitting any payments or personal information.
School officials should work with their international students to ensure they are aware of how to avoid scams.

International students are required to adhere to many rules and regulations to maintain their student status, so it is especially alarming when they receive an email or telephone call advising them that their immigration status is in jeopardy unless they provide immediate payment for services, fees or fines.

With these scams, students are typically contacted by email or telephone, and often the sender or caller will know specific information about the student. The scammer will usually request immediate payment either by credit card or electronic
transfer, and may even claim to be from a U.S. government agency or known student organization.

Students should be aware that a government agency would never contact them by telephone to demand immediate payment and would never request that the student wire money for immediate payment. Students should always consult with their designated school official (DSO) about their immigration status. Additionally, students should pay careful attention to the email address of any contact, as government emails and websites will always end in “.gov” and never “.com.”

HSI recommends that school officials communicate to their students that if they receive a scam telephone call or email, they should:
–Not give out any personal information.
–Not send money.
–Obtain as much information from the caller or email as possible without
alerting the scammer so they can report it to police, HSI or the Student and
Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), and their DSO.

We ask DSOs to immediately alert their student body when they learn of any scams
targeted toward international students so others are not harmed and to also contact
their local HSI office or SEVP to notify them of any identified scams. DSOs may
also contact the HSI Tip Line at 866-DHS-2-ICE (866-347-2423) if calling from the
United States.
(from SEVP)

About the author

Phillip Kim administrator