Me and my wife had been on green card for 5 years so we decided to apply for citizenship so that we could sponsor our family to come here since all their visas were rejected in the past. We decided at least they can come or their children can have a chance even if it takes 7 years.
Anyhow, we had met this Nepali paralegal at a function and he said he does thousands of applications for Nepalese so we contacted him and talked to him about our citizenship application. We told him we would need to apply for our parent's gc after we became citizens. He said he could do our citizenship for free and we told him we would have our parent's applications done through him (paid).
He asked us to make two money orders for about $675 each which was for the citizenship application. He said he would fill in the details and send as our applications fee so we made two blank money order checks and gave it to him. We asked him to send copies of our application back to us, but he only mailed my spouses' copy back when we asked for my copy he said he'd have his assistant send it to us.
After about two weeks, my spouse's receipt mail came. Then a month later my spouse's fingerprint came and 3 months later my spouse became a citizen. All this time we inquired the paralegal why I hadn't received something and he said my name may not have security clearance so may take some more time. It made sense so I was patient. Another three months and still nothing so we asked him again and he said wait 2 months, then after that his automatic response was wait 2 weeks wait two weeks or wait two months. It had already been a year since we handed him the money order.
Six months later, I heard from someone that this paralegal had the same issue with someone else and when threatened with investigation, the missing receipt had miraculously shown up. The paralegal had told this couple that because of rain a portion of applications had been unusable so he had to send another application.
Before I heard this, I was not too concerned and had believed that probably I did not receive the so called 'security clearance', but after I heard about this incident, I called up the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, who told me that I should get a receipt within 10 to 15 days of application no matter what. So I called the paralegal and told him that's what USCIS says. And he said that maybe when they received my application with my spouse's application, they must have mistaken my application papers as supplement papers for my spouse's application. I had serious doubt about it. USCIS receives thousands of applicaions from couples every day, how can they make a mistake like that. Anyways I asked him to send me a copy of my application to me since he had never sent me a copy back so that I can get some info like the date of application etc so I could have the USCIS investigate it. I got a copy of application back but the final page was missing which should have the date and signatures. I asked him for it and he said that his assistant must have misplaced it. They had all the pages except the main page with dates and signatures. And there was no copy of the money order either.
I informed the paralegal that we were setting up an appointment with the USCIS to get to the bottom of this and he said that he would refile my application and that I should receive my receipt letter within two weeks.
Few days later, I received a mail from this paralegal with a new money order made out to USCIS with a note that said I should fill out a new application myself and send with the attached money order.
This paralegal wasted a lot of my time. I am not sure what he was trying to do. I am not sure if he sent my spouses money order for her application and decided to put mine in his personal account. I don't have any proof so I can't say for sure but the circumstance does look vague specially when he sent a newly made money order back to me after all was said and done.
I have half a mind to go back to my bank and lodge a formal complaint to find out whose account my initial money order went to, for wasting my time like that. It's amazing how everytime we called him he would just say it's just a matter of few weeks few days few months as if time had no value for him. He has wasted two years time for my application.
If he is reading this, and he's not guilty of fraud then I apologize but the whole circumstance does sound a bit fishy. For others who are about to file their applications, if there is something I learnt from this, it is - if things look sunny and promising, dont' take it for granted - never give blank money order and be sure to keep the money order stubs with you in safe place.