FAQ On Immigration Services Fraud

What is Immigrant Services Fraud?
Many dishonest individuals take advantage of immigrants and their desire to live in the United States legally by promising them citizenship, green cards, or work permits in exchange for a lot of money. Dishonest service providers, often referred to as “notarios”, charge high sums and either do not do any work, or file papers for cases that the client is not eligible for. Many times these notarios are not lawyers and are not allowed to provide legal services. In New York State, it is a crime to provide immigration legal services if you are not a lawyer or someone authorized by the US Department of Justice to help immigrants. The most common consequence of Immigrant Services Fraud is that the victim loses money, is no longer able to apply for immigration benefits, and sometimes can be deported from the United States. Immigrant Services Fraud is a very serious problem that the NYIC has been working on hard to address.
Who can provide legal help with immigration issues?
Only lawyers who are members of a state bar in the United States can provide legal help. For immigration issues, BIA Accredited Representatives, who are non-lawyers working at non-profit organizations that have been granted permission to provide immigration help by the US Department of Justice, can also provide legal assistance.  BIA representatives can help with immigration issues only.
What can someone who is not a lawyer help me with?
If someone is not a lawyer and not a BIA Accredited Representative, they can only help you translate documents, find documents or get them fixed (if your child’s birth certificate has a mistake, for example),and  help you go to the post office to mail them. They CANNOT choose a form for you or tell you which form to use, tell you what kind of case you should apply for or if you are eligible for an immigration benefit, or explain to you how to fill out a form that someone else gave you. In addition, immigration forms are ALWAYS available for free at www.uscis.gov or by calling 1-800-375-5283.  You can also find out the status of your case for free by calling that number or going to that website.