Immigration Services Fraud

Immigrants who seek to adjust their immigration status can be at risk of being scammed by companies or individuals who provide unauthorized and fraudulent immigration services. Unscrupulous individuals prey on immigrants knowing that they are vulnerable, and fear complaining to authorities.

The New York Attorney General protects immigrants who seek to adjust their status by enforcing federal, state, and local laws. The New York State Immigrant Assistance Services Law is just one among a body of comprehensive state laws that mandates important requirements for non-attorneys providing limited immigration assistance to the public. Some of the key provisions of the law governing such Immigrant Assistance Service Providers include the following:

  • Providers cannot give legal advice or counsel a person on his or her eligibility for immigration status, including how to fill out answers on immigration forms;
  • Providers cannot state directly or indirectly that he or she has special influence with or can obtain special favors or guarantee an outcome from the United States Citizenship and Immigrations Services, the Department of Homeland Security, the Executive Office for Immigration Review, or any other governmental entity;
  • Providers cannot demand a fee in exchange for immigration forms or for a referral to a qualified legal service provider;
  • Providers must provide written contracts in the language understood by the immigrant customer;
  • Customers can cancel their contracts and get a refund and upon request have their original documents and immigration file returned to them, even if there is a fee dispute; and
  • Providers must post clear multi-lingual signage about the limited scope of their services.

The Attorney General has enforced the law to secure court orders and settlements that prohibit unlawful conduct and secured refunds for immigrant consumers. In some instances, the Attorney General has also secured jail time for those who persistently violate the court orders secured by her office. In other instances, bad actors have been banned from providing immigration services.

The Attorney General is committed to protecting immigrants and encourages those who have been scammed to report complaints by calling the office
1(800) 771-7755 or by filling out a complaint form. Any identifying information provided to the Attorney General’s office shall be protected in a manner consistent with state law and policies on the safeguarding of identifying information.