New York State Immigration Fraud Enforcement Statutes
Penal Law Sections Used to Prosecute Immigration Services Fraud
- 155.05: Larceny by False Promise & Larceny by Extortion
- 155.25: Petit Larceny
- § 155.30-155.42: Grand Larceny
- § 170.20 – 170.35: Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument
- § 170.00 – 170.15: Forgery
- § 175.30 – 175.35: Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree
- § 190.60 – 190.65: Scheme to Defraud
- § 190.87 – 190.89: Immigrant Assistance Services Fraud
- 195.05: Obstructing Governmental Administration
Summary of General Business Law Section 28C
- 460-a Defines “Immigrant Assistance Service Providers” (“IASP”) as individuals, organizations or businesses who, for a fee, offer services related to legal immigration issues.
- 460-b Specifies contract requirements.
- 460-c Specifies signage and advertising requirements.
- 460-d States that IASPs are prohibited from:
- Providing legal advice;
- Assuming or using the title of lawyer or equivalent (including but not limited to “notary”, “notario” or “notario publico”, “accredited representative of the board of immigration appeals, and ” “immigration specialist”);
- Stating directly or indirectly that the IASP has special influence with or can obtain special favors from USCIS, Department of Homeland Security, EOIR, or any other governmental entity;
- Threatening to report the immigrant consumer to U.S immigration authorities;
- Demanding or retaining a fee for work not performed, future work, or costs not incurred;
- Counseling an immigrant-consumer to make a false statement to a governmental officer or on a federal immigration form;
- Submitting information to a government official on behalf of an immigrant-consumer without his or her knowledge or consent, except where required by law;
- Failing to return or provide a copies of the immigrant’s immigration file upon request or upon termination of the contract;
- Making any direct or indirect misrepresentations or false statements to the immigrant-consumer;
- Promising or guaranteeing a specific outcome relating to the immigration process, unless there is a factual basis to support such a statement;
- Demanding a fee in exchange for New York State government immigration forms or for a referral to a qualified legal service providers;
- Referring a customer for a fee to an attorney, individual or entity that can provide services the IASP cannot;
- Counseling a person on his or her eligibility for immigration status, including how to fill out answers on immigration forms;
- Promising to expedite the immigration applications or leverage special relationships that will expedite the immigration status adjustment process;
- Knowingly providing false or misleading information about an immigrant’s eligibility for immigration status or other government benefits, with the intention of inducing a customer to employ the IASP’s services.
- 460-e: All immigration application materials must be preserved for at least three years after the execution of a contract even if the contract is voided later on.
- 460-f: IASPs must maintain a surety in the form of a “bond, contract of indemnity, or irrevocable letter of credit payable to the people of New York” for $50,000 or 20% of total fees if the amount of total fees in a 12 month period is greater than $250,000.
- 460-g: An immigrant fraud victim may bring a private right of action to enjoin the IASP’s unlawful act or practice, and/or to recover actual damages or $2,500, whichever is greater, in addition to any other remedy available. Courts may also award costs and reasonable attorney fees to prevailing plaintiffs;
- 460-h: The New York State Attorney General has the authority to seek injunctive relief, restitution, and/or civil penalties for any violations listed in General Business Law Article 28-C;
- 460-i: Violations of this section are a Class A misdemeanor;
- 460-j: Other remedies under law may also be sought beyond what is provided for in this section;
- 460-k: A supplemental penalty of up to $10,000 may be imposed.
NOTARY PUBLIC ADVERTISING REGULATIONS
- NYCRR § 200.1: A notary public cannot represent himself or herself to be an attorney unless he or she is licensed to practice law in New York.
- Non-lawyer notary advertising must include the following statement:
- “I am not an attorney licensed to practice law and may not give legal advice about immigration or any other legal matter or accept fees for legal advice.”
- 478: Falsely holding oneself to the public as an attorney or firm.
- 483: Advertising that an attorney is available to provide legal representation without including the name of the attorney or law firm.
- 484: Accepting compensation to represent another person in court unless said person is admitted to practice law.
- 485: All of the above are Class A felonies unless the offender is representing himself or herself as an attorney and there is over $1,000 monetary loss to victims, in which case it is a Class E felony.
- 750: The Supreme Court can punish a person who unlawfully practices law by finding that person in criminal contempt.