Immigrants can be especially vulnerable when they are seeking to adjust their immigration status. They can be easy targets for companies and individuals who offer unauthorized and fraudulent immigration services. These scammers prey on these immigrants, who fear complaining to authorities.
The Office of the New York State Attorney General (OAG) enforces federal, state, and local laws that protect immigrants who seek to adjust their status. One of these laws is the New York State Immigrant Assistance Services Law. This is just one of many comprehensive state laws that mandate important requirements for immigrant assistance service providers, or non-attorneys who offer limited immigration assistance to the public. Some of the key provisions of this law are:
- Providers cannot give legal advice or counsel a person on their eligibility for immigration status, including how to fill out answers on immigration forms.
- Providers cannot state or hint that they can influence, or get special favors or specific outcomes from, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services, the Department of Homeland Security, the Executive Office for Immigration Review, or any other government entity.
- Providers cannot demand a fee for providing immigration forms or 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 have their original documents and immigration file returned to them, even if there is a fee dispute.
- Providers must post clear, multi-lingual, signage about the limited scope of their services.
To protect immigrant consumers, the OAG's enforcement of the law has resulted in many important outcomes, including:
- securing court orders and settlements that prohibit unlawful conduct
- obtaining refunds for immigrant consumers
- securing jail time for those who persistently violate the court orders obtained by her office
- banning bad actors from providing immigration services
The OAG is committed to protecting immigrants. We encourage any who have been scammed to report complaints by calling the office at 1-800-771-7755 or filling out a complaint form. Any identifying information provided to the office will be protected according to state law and policies on the safeguarding of identifying information.