Consumer Protection Tips for Immigrants: Immigration Assistance Services:
Before you read on…
Get free help. The City of New York offers safe, free immigration legal screenings. Visit nyc.gov/actionnyc or call 311 and say ‘ActionNYC’. See Free HELP and OTHER RESOURCES.
If you work with an Immigration Assistance Service Provider, here are tips to help you.
Immigration Assistance Service Providers are people or businesses that charge fees for any kind of immigration-related services. They are not lawyers. They do not have permission from the government to give immigration advice.
These providers are allowed to:
*translate and notarize documents.
*help you gather documents (like a birth certification or school records).
*type up application forms (but not give advice on how to answer questions).
*arrange for photographs or medical tests.
*help you prepare for English language or civics tests.
These providers are not allowed to:
*select which immigration forms you should submit.
*give legal advice about documents to submit.
*explain your immigration options.
*discuss your case with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
*know which applications forms you need to file when you go to a provider.
*only go to providers that have physical locations. Never use one you can reach only by phone or email.
*do not believe any provider that claims to have special influence with immigration authorities.
*Providers must sign a written contract with you before providing services. Read the contract before signing. Keep a copy for your records.
*do not give original documents (like a marriage certificate). Give copies instead.
*get a written receipt. Make sure the receipt contains the name and address of the provider.
*do not sign any blank or incomplete forms. Insist that the provider sign any form it prepares for you.
*Providers must maintain a bond for your protection. Write down the name and contact information of the bond company or bank. If you are harmed, you can go to court to recover money from the provider or its bond company.
*file a complaint with the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) online at nyc.gov/dca or contact 311 to file a complaint in your language. You do not have to give your name or your immigration status to make a complaint. Note: If you would like DCA to contact you, you must provide your name and address.
*call 311 or visit nycourts.gov and search “Attorney Disciplinary/Grievance Committee” to file a complaint about an attorney.
Beware of ….
In New York State, a notary public or notario pulicio, is not an attorney. A notary public cannot give legal advice, draft legal papers or review documents for legality.
Never pay for blank government forms. Forms are available for free on the USCIS website uscis.gov. Providers do not have give out free forms.
*ActionNYC provides safe, free immigration legal screenings in your community in you own language. Visit nyc.gov/actionnyc or call 311 and say “ActionNYC”.
*City agencies that provide direct social services must arrange for interpretation and translation in your first language.
*City agencies cannot ask about immigration status unless it is necessary to determine eligibility for a benefit or service.
*call the New York State Immigration Hotlines at 1-800-566-7636 or 1-212-419-3737 for information on free immigration advice or help.
*Read other Consumer Protection Tips for Immigrants: EMPLOYMENT AGENCIES, FINANCES AND TAX PREPARTION.
*Visit nyc.gov/dca for information, including a sample immigration assistance service contract.
*Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA): Visit nyc.gov/immigrants for information about legal and City Services.
*U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): Visit uscis.gov or call 1-800-870-3676 for USCIS forms.
*New York Attorney General’s Office: Visit ag.ny.gov and search “Immigrant Fraud” for additional information and resources. Read “Don’t be a victim of Immigration Fraud”.
*Federal Trade Commission (FTC): Visit ftc.gov and search ‘immigrant scams’ for additional information and resources. Read:
-Scams against immigrants
-Spotting avoiding & reporting scams: a fraud handbook for recent refugees and immigrants.
*New York City Bar Association: Call 1-212-626-7373 for an attorney referral.
*Disclaimer: this information has been provided by a pamphlet from the NYC Office of the Mayor, Department of Consumer Affairs/Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and Small Business Services. I have never used these services before so I have no opinion on the m yes or no that they are good or not. Please call the above number or check their website for further information.