How can I tell if I am working with a real lawyer?

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 How can I tell if I am working with a real immigration lawyer? Do not end up like the victims of immigration scams in this sad story of someone who pretended to be an immigration lawyer and scammed immigrants out of thousands of dollars,  see immigration scam.  Howard Seidler promised a green card and a social security number, but took the money and never filed anything. This is all too common where people are desperate for immigration papers and vulnerable to immigration scams. When you pay someone to file an immigration application make sure you are working with a real lawyer.

How can you tell if the person you are working with is a real lawyer?

1. Lawyers are required to register with the bar association in each state where they practice. You can check the attorney registration on-line to see if your lawyer is registered.  In New York State you can search attorney registration to see if the name is listed.

2. For immigration lawyers you can also check the website for the American Immigration Lawyers Association to see if your lawyer is a member of AILA.  The American Immigration Lawyers Association is a valuable resource for immigration lawyers and for the public. Lawyers, who are members, receive  daily updates on new developments in immigration. Members of the public can access the public AILA website for information on immigration,  and for information on immigration lawyers who are members of AILA.

As the old saying goes, if something is too good to be true, it probably isn’t. When you file an immigration application you need to be sure that you are eligible to apply and that the information on the application is true.  If you are not eligible, or the information on the forms is not true, you could be deported, or even worse, prosecuted for filing a false form and then deported.

 How can I protect myself from immigration scams?

1. Ask for a copy of everything that you sign

2. Check to see that your immigration lawyer is registered with a state bar association.

3. Check to see if your immigration lawyer is a member of AILA.

4. Be careful if anyone filing applications for you guarantees that your application will be approved.  Lawyers are not allowed to make these kinds of promises.

5. If you are undocumented (sometimes called illegal) be even more careful.  In most cases immigrants who are  in the US without immigration papers, or  who have entered without papers (or with false papers) cannot stay in the US to apply for immigration status.

6. One exception to #5 above, is for people who entered the US before June 15, 2007 without papers and were under the age of 16 when they entered.  In that case, Two-Year Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) might be a possibility. For  more information on this see DACA Now.

7. Don’t listen to anyone who says they can file an application now for undocumented parents of US citizen or permanent resident children.  There is a new program for undocumented parents, but it is on hold while it is being challenged in court.  There is also an expanded form of DACA (Three-Year DACA) that may become available for those who have lived in the US without documents since June 1, 2010. This program is also being challenged in the courts and is not yet available.

Remember, it is you who will pay the price if you are working with a scam artist.  You may lose more than your money if the scammer files papers for you that include false information. If you cannot afford to pay for a consultation with a lawyer there are some programs that may be able to help you for free.  In the New York City area you can contact, LawHelpNY .  In the Syracuse, NY area you may be eligible for a free immigration consultation, contact the Volunteer Lawyers Project of Onondaga County to make an appointment. Be careful out there!

 

 

 

Who Can Apply for DACA (Deferred Action) Now (Feb. 2015)?

child immigrants

Requirements for DACA

Although the expanded DACA Program has been delayed, there is currently a program in place for those who meet the following requirements:

1. Under Age 31 on June 15, 2012

2. Arrived in US before 16th Birthday

3. Continuously Resided in US from June 15, 2007 to present

4. Entered  US Without Inspection (sometimes called illegal entry) before June 15, 2012

5. Currently in school, have graduated from high school, or have GED, or honorably discharged from military

6. Age 15, or older, at time of application

 

Complicating Factors that require careful evaluation before filing a DACA Application

1. No documents, or few documents, showing presence in US

2. Criminal Charges

3. Previous immigration application

4. Absences from US since June 15, 2007 ( or 5 years before filing)

Seek advice from an experienced immigration lawyer if any of the above complicating factors applies to you. 

 

Benefits of an Approved DACA Application

1. Protection from deportation for 3 years

2. Able to apply for permission to work in the US

3. Able to apply for a Social Security Number

 

Risks in Applying for DACA

1. If you apply, and you are not eligible, you could be deported.

2. Some kinds of denials, may make you permanently unable to file immigration applications in the future. For example, some kinds of criminal convictions may be a permanent bar to entering the US.

DACA Renewal

 

child immigrants

Reminder to those who have already applied for DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. If your approved DACA application is expiring, you may request that it be renewed.  USCIS recommends that renewal applications be filed 120 days (four months) before your period of deferred action expires.   To determine whether you are eligible to file an application to renew DACA, and for information on how to apply go to:  Renew DACA.

How does your immigration status affect your eligibility for health insurance?

March 14, 2014 Read the information provided by USCIS on the Affordable Care Act to find out if you are eligible for health insurance and what documents you would need to provide.

From: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services  3/13/2014
Did you know that your immigration status may affect your eligibility for health care benefits under the Affordable Care Act (ACA)?
Open enrollment ends March 31, 2014. USCIS encourages you to visit www.healthcare.gov to learn more. The website includes helpful resources on:
• The most common immigration documents that you may submit when applying for health insurance;
• Health insurance options for your family;
• How your immigration status affects your eligibility for insurance; and
• How you can verify your citizenship and immigration status.
Go online today to find the information you need to apply for health insurance.

Free Immigration Consultations

March 10, 2014: We wanted to let you know about an upcoming opportunity for a free immigration consultation in Syracuse. If you, a family member, or a friend are struggling with an immigration matter, this events is  a great opportunity to discuss the matter with an immigration lawyer at no charge.

*Saturday, March 22, 2014
Volunteer Lawyers Project – Immigration Clinic
Catholic Charities, 529 N. Salina Street, Syracuse, NY
For more information, contact Sally Curran (315-579-2576; scurran@onbar.org) or Felicia Castricone (315-474-7428).