(Issued Tuesday, March 17, 2015)
***** SCAM ALERT*****
Government, law enforcement and community leaders today warned that immigrants seeking legal assistance should take precautions against scammers seeking to take advantage of them with incorrect, misleading, or false information. Officials expect that these scammers will use the delay in President Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration programs to confuse immigrant consumers into being defrauded out of their hard-earned money, and endanger their ability to stay and work in this country.
Due to a federal court order delaying immigration relief, the federal government will not begin accepting requests for Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), nor for the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), until later in 2015. This delay in the implementation of the immigration programs may lead to more immigrant New Yorkers being defrauded by con artists posing as immigration attorneys or authorized immigration representatives, who charge fees for services that are never provided.
Immigrant consumers should make sure to get advice from the right person – whether you are renewing your Green Card, applying for naturalization or citizenship, or trying to choose the right forms.
- Only lawyers and representatives accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) can provide advice, assistance and representation on immigration matters.
- Anyone providing immigration services must also comply with strict rules governing contracts and advertising.
Tips on how immigrants can protect themselves from immigration services fraud:
- Call a qualified provider – you can get a free referral by calling the New York State New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636.
- Make sure to get a contract, and don’t sign it until it has been explained to you.
- Pay with a check or money order. Don’t pay cash.
- Always get a receipt.
- Get and maintain copies of all forms and documents sent on your behalf.
- Don’t sign blank forms or documents that you don’t understand.
- Get a second opinion.
For more information about immigration issues or to seek a referral for assistance from a local community-based organization,call the free multi-lingual New York State New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636. Anyone can also call the Hotline if they suspect they are or have been a victim of immigration services fraud.
This consumer alert is brought to you by:
Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office
Manhattan District Attorney’s Office
Queens District Attorney’s Office
New York City Council
New York City Public Advocate
New York State Office for New Americans
Office of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
American Immigration Lawyers Association – NY
Catholic Charities Community Services
Immigrant Justice Corps
Legal Aid Society of New York
Make the Road New York
New Immigrant Community Empowerment
New York Immigration Coalition
New York Legal Assistance Group
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The New York Immigration Coalition is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for nearly 200 groups in New York State that work with immigrants and refugees.The NYIC aims to achieve a fairer and more just society that values the contributions of immigrants and extends opportunity to all by promoting immigrants’ full civic participation, fostering their leadership, and providing a unified voice and a vehicle for collective action for New York’s diverse immigrant communities.