A.G. Schneiderman Issues Alert On Potential Scams As Federal Immigration Policy Goes Into Effect

90,000 Immigrants In NYS Stand To Benefit From Deferred Action Program

Schneiderman: Immigrants Must Remain Vigilant Against Scams In Light Of New Program

 

NEW YORK– Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued an alert today urging applicants to the new federal Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to protect themselves from fraud. Beginning this week, young immigrants in the State of New York who came to the United States as children - and meet other specific criteria - may request the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to defer action against them for a two-year period, subject to renewal, and may additionally seek and obtain work authorization.

"Deferred Action could grant over 90,000 people in the state of New York an opportunity to live their lives out of the shadows and freely participate in the workforce," said Attorney General Schneiderman. “As this new policy goes into effect, New Yorkers must remain vigilant to protect themselves from unscrupulous scammers preying on some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.”

Before submitting any paperwork to USCIS, individuals should determine whether they qualify for deferred action. A request for deferred action from USCIS will only be considered if an individual meets all the following criteria:

  • As of June 15, 2012, you were under the age of 31;
  • You came to the United States before turning 16;
  • You have continuously lived in the United States from June 15, 2007 through the present time;
  • You were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012 and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action;
  • You entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
  • You are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  • You have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Even if one meets all the above criteria, USCIS will make decisions on a case-by-case basis. So there is no guarantee that one will be provided with the requested relief, even if all the guidelines are met.

Eligible individuals may want to consult an attorney before deciding whether to request deferred action. There may be reasons why applying may not be in one's best interest. Those who do decide to employ the services of an attorney or immigration services provider for help with paperwork should be on the look-out for scam artists charging exorbitant fees and giving bad advice.

To protect individuals from potential scams, Attorney General Schneiderman has issued the following tips today to protect those in New York from becoming victims of fraudulent schemes:

  • Never pay a fee for an expedited application.Individuals cannot expedite your request for deferred action for a fee.
  • No one can guarantee you will get approved for deferred action. If someone makes such a guarantee, don't employ his or her services.
  • Only attorneys or Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)-accredited representatives can give you advice on which forms to submit for deferred action.
  • Only you, an attorney, or a BIA-accredited representative can represent you before USCIS and inquire about the status of your request.
  • An immigration service provider that does not employ attorneys maynot give you legal advice, threaten to report you to immigration authorities, promise to obtain special favors from immigration authorities, instruct you to provide false information to immigration authorities, or charge you for a referral to someone qualified to assist you with  immigration matters.
  • Although Notarios Publico are attorneys in Spanish-speaking countries, Notaries Public in the United States are not attorneys. Do not hire them for legal advice.
  • Remember, before you sign any immigration form, you must understand it and agree to the truth of it. If a form is not written in your language, and you don't understand it, do not sign it. Anything you sign that is not true and accurate may be considered fraudulent by USCIS, and this will have serious repercussions.
  • If you do go to an immigration service provider to have your paperwork filled out, the provider must do the following: give you a contract (which may be cancelled at any time) written in English and in a language you understand describing the services they will provide and the fees they will charge, post signs clearly indicating they are not attorneys and cannot give you legal advice, give you a copy of any documents filed with the government, return any original documents belonging to you, and give you a copy of your file on demand without a fee.
  • It's always safest to pay for any service you obtain by money order, check, or credit card. Do not pay with cash. Note, too, that USCIS filing fees must be paid by those methods.

“Young immigrants are not only an important part of the fabric of New York City, they are a key part of our City’s economic engine,” said Fatima Shama, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “Our city agencies will continue to support our immigrant New Yorkers by ensuring they have access to the documents needed to apply so that they get every opportunity to pursue their dreams and contribute to the City and country they call home.”

For more information on the USCIS deferred action policy, including guidelines and forms, please visit:http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis.

To find a licensed attorney in the State of New York, visit the New York State Bar Association: www.nysba.org or through the American Immigration Lawyers Association: www.aila.org.

If you think you've been the victim of an immigration services fraud scam, contact the Attorney General's Immigration Fraud Hotline at 1-866-390-2992.Our office will not inquire about your immigration status or share your information with anyone, including other government entities.

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