Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Abigail Lootens / Christine Gianakis
Department of Consumer Affairs
(212) 436-0042

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Consumer Warning: Department of Consumer Affairs Warns Immigrant New Yorkers about the "10-Year Visa Scam"

Immigration Service Providers and Immigration Lawyers Misleading Immigrant New Yorkers into Believing that they Can Obtain a Visa or Green Card Based on 10 Years of Residency within the United States

NEW YORK, NY –Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today issued a warning to consumers about an immigration scam called the “10-Year Visa Scam.” Preying on fears and desperation to find a legal way to stay in the United States, some immigration service providers and immigration lawyers are telling immigrants, through word-of-mouth and deceptive advertising, that they can obtain a visa or green card if they have lived in the U.S. for 10 years. The scams are sometimes advertised under the banner “easy way to obtain a green card!” What these individuals fail to disclose is that, as part of the process for obtaining a green card or visa based upon residency, the immigrant must first enter deportation proceedings. They also often fail to explain the other requirements for this so-called “10-year visa,” including that the immigrant must prove “extreme, unusual, and exceptional hardship” to their family members, which is not “easy” to do. In at least one example, an immigrant paid a provider approximately $25,000. As a result of this scam, these consumers are left paying high costs for a service that they have been deceived into believing is safe and easy – when in fact the opposite is true.

This scam is placing immigrant New Yorkers at extraordinary risk while grossly misrepresenting the visa application process. These deceptive tactics violate the City’s Consumer Protection Law and DCA is proactively investigating anyone who engages in this practice. We encourage consumers who have witnessed advertisements promoting the 10-Year Visa Scam or who have fallen victim to the scam file a complaint about “false advertising” at or call 311.

“Some immigration service providers and immigration lawyers are preying on the desperation and fear of immigrants, all so they can turn a profit,” said DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “We want to make sure that all consumers know the hidden risks involved in this 10-Year Visa Scam, which requires immigrants to actually enter into deportation proceedings without the guarantee that their visa application will even be approved. DCA encourages New Yorkers, regardless of their immigration status, to utilize the City’s free and secure services to ensure they are keeping themselves and their families safe.”

In addition to the 10-Year Visa Scam, DCA would like to warn New Yorkers about illegal and predatory immigration assistance providers who prey on vulnerable New Yorkers’ fear by luring them with false promises of work authorization, green cards, or citizenship when they may not be qualified to provide the services and do so in exchange for hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of their hard-earned dollars. Consumers can use trusted resources for immigration assistance through City-supported legal services programs such as ActionNYC, the Immigrant Opportunity Initiative, Key to the City, NYCitizenship and the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project.

“The City is working to alert immigrant communities against fraudsters offering this 10-Year Visa Scam,” said Nisha Agarwal, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “This scam, rather than granting ‘easy’ access to green cards, could in fact put more people at risk for deportations. I thank the Department of Consumer Affairs and Commissioner Salas for their help in informing immigrant New Yorkers of dangerous scams. And as we have done through our Know Your Rights Forums across the city, I encourage New Yorkers to call 311 to report fraud and to consult free and safe immigration legal services through ActionNYC.”

“We thank Commissioner Salas and DCA for actively pursuing those who are looking to prey on the desperation that so many of our city’s immigrants are experiencing because of Donald Trump right now,” said Javier H. Valdés, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York. “At this time of fear and fake news, our top priority is to ensure immigrants have the right information about their options. By putting immigrants in deportation proceedings under the guise of helping them, the 10-Year Visa promise is a scam, not a benefit. At a time when many immigrants may be fearful of the government, we applaud DCA’s efforts to help our communities safeguard themselves against those that want to hurt them.”

“Catholic Migration Services applauds DCA for its efforts in curbing immigration scams,” said Reverend Patrick J. Keating, Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Migration Services. “Over the past few years we have seen the devastation that notarios and lawyers have caused by filing fraudulent applications on behalf of immigrants. This has not only cost immigrants and their families thousands of dollars but has also led to innocent victims being placed in deportation proceedings. Catholic Migration Services is committed to standing with immigrant communities in this fight against fraud.”

Additional information for immigrants:
  • Do not believe any provider that claims to have special influence with immigration authorities.
  • In New York State, a notary public, or notario público, is not an attorney. A notary public cannot give legal advice, draft legal papers, or review documents for legality.
  • If someone is not an authorized immigration service provider, they can only read the form to you, translate, and write down information that you provide.
  • Get a second opinion before filling out any immigration applications.
DCA encourages consumers to visit our website to access tips on immigration service assistance (available in English, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Hindi, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish and Urdu), as well as the City’s free immigration services (available in English, Arabic, Bengali, Urdu, and several other languages).

Everyone, including undocumented immigrants, can access nearly all City services. City employees will not ask about immigration status, and if made aware of anyone’s status, are required to keep this information confidential. To make an appointment for free, safe immigration help by trusted providers through ActionNYC call 311 and say “immigration help.” For free legal help with citizenship applications call 311 and say “citizenship appointment” or call the NYCitizenship Hotline at 1-212-514-4277.

The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) protects and enhances the daily economic lives of New Yorkers to create thriving communities. DCA licenses more than 81,000 businesses in more than 50 industries and enforces key consumer protection, licensing, and workplace laws that apply to countless more. By supporting businesses through equitable enforcement and access to resources and, by helping to resolve complaints, DCA protects the marketplace from predatory practices and strives to create a culture of compliance. Through its community outreach and the work of its offices of Financial Empowerment and Labor Policy & Standards, DCA empowers consumers and working families by providing the tools and resources they need to be educated consumers and to achieve financial health and work-life balance. DCA also conducts research and advocates for public policy that furthers its work to support New York City’s communities. For more information about DCA and its work, call 311 or visit DCA at or on its social media sites, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.