Archives of the Mayor's Press Office

Date: Thursday, March 1, 2001

Release # 066-01

Contact: Sunny Mindel/Sid Dinsay
Madeleine Tress, Immigrant Affairs
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Warns illegal immigrants to beware of fraud

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani today advised immigrants that the Legal Immigration and Family Equity Act (the LIFE Act)--a change in federal immigration law that went into effect December 2000--is not a general amnesty for illegal immigrants. The LIFE Act temporarily restores a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act, known as Section 245(i) until April 30, 2001. It allows immigrants who are unlawfully present in the U.S., but would otherwise qualify for an immigrant visa, to adjust their status without leaving the U.S.

"The LIFE Act is not a broad amnesty for illegal immigrants," Mayor Giuliani said. "However, it makes it easier for those who qualify to get an immigrant visa. Individuals who think they might qualify should consult with a reputable legal service provider. They should be aware that many people who call themselves immigration consultants are taking advantage of the confusion. Immigration practitioners making promises of green cards to immigrants who have no immediate family or employment sponsorship are violating the law."

"Immigrants desperate to have legal status need to know that unless they have a sponsor who is an immediate relative or an employer, they cannot get a green card," the Mayor added. "The City of New York will make sure that critical information is accessible so immigrants can understand if they qualify for green cards under the new law."

Mayor Giuliani emphasized that in order to become a Legal Permanent Resident (green card holder), immigrants need to be sponsored by either an immediate family member who is a Legal Permanent Resident or a U.S. citizen, or an employer. Legal Permanent Residents may help their spouses and unmarried children of any age. U.S. citizens may help their spouses, children, parents, and siblings.

Potential employers must demonstrate that there is a certifiable shortage of people in the labor market with the particular skill of the immigrant they are intending to hire. Immigrants need to prove that they were present in the U.S. on December 21, 2000.

Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jane Hoffman said, "The LIFE Act offers some immigrants the opportunity to become Legal Permanent Residents of the U.S. without leaving the country. Unfortunately, unscrupulous legal service providers see this as yet another opportunity to make false promises to immigrants and charge them thousands of dollars for unnecessary services."

Natalia Pavlova, Acting Executive Director of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs and Language Services, emphasized, "The LIFE Act does not apply to all immigrants unlawfully present in the U.S. It is important for immigrants to obtain accurate information about whether they qualify for green cards under the new law. There are practitioners operating out of travel agencies and real estate offices, and notary publics, using titles with no legal significance, such as 'consultant,' 'counselor,' 'adviser,' or 'notario,' who may steer immigrants in the wrong direction." She adds that the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service may use information provided by unqualified immigrants to deport them.

Every year for the past six years, the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs and Language Services, along with the Department of Consumer Affairs, the New York Association for New Americans and the New York Immigration Coalition, has published, updated and distributed Beware of Immigration Services Fraud. This brochure is available in nine languages: English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, Haitian Creole, Italian and Korean. It is designed to help immigrants be aware of the deceptive practices of dishonest immigration practitioners and to inform the public about qualified legal service providers. Individuals who wish to obtain this brochure, which is also available on DCA's website ( in English, Spanish, French and Russian, can send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to:

New York City Dept. of Consumer Affairs
42 Broadway
NY, NY 10004
Attn: Beware of Immigration Services Fraud

Citizenship New York City, a Department of Youth and Community Development program, together with the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs and Language Services, is coordinating a toll-free, multilingual information telephone number to provide referrals to reputable legal service providers. The Department of Business Services is advising prospective employers to seek advice from employment and immigration attorneys. Prospective employers should be prepared for a lengthy application process in order to sponsor immigrants for green cards. Immigrants who think they qualify for green cards under the new law should call Citizenship New York City at (888) 374-5100.

Consumers who believe they are victims of immigration fraud concerning the LIFE Act should contact the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs at 42 Broadway, New York, NY 10004 (by mail only); the National Fraud Information Center at (800) 876-7060 or (202) 835-0159; or the U.S. Federal Trade Commission at (877) 382-4357.

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