Thousands of immigrants who were defrauded by two organizations that illegally provided immigration services will finally have the opportunity to get their money back.
The New York State Attorney General's Office announced which has established a $$2.2 million fund to compensate victims of two alleged non-profit organizations that committed fraud by practicing law without having the authority to do so: the International Immigrants Foundation (IIF), also known as the International Immigrant Foundation, and the International Professional Association (IPA).
Both organizations were created and chaired by Edward Juárez, also known as Eduardo Juárez and Edward Juárez-Paglioccio, a former radio and television commentator and columnist for La Prensa Newspaper in New York.
These organizations fraudulently promised to solve their clients' immigration problems, charging them thousands of dollars without doing the proper work or submitting shoddy applications.
According to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, in one case, a person who was eligible for a green card and paid more than $$18,000 in fees and costs lost his opportunity due to the negligence of these organizations. Other clients paid thousands of dollars for services whose actual value was only hundreds of dollars. In other cases, individuals were subject to deportation.
Under federal and state law, non-profit organizations cannot provide immigration legal services without first obtaining accreditation from the federal government to do so, and they cannot charge high fees for their services. In addition, the law prohibits non-lawyers from providing legal advice.
The Attorney General's Office created the restitution fund, which will be administered by the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG), as part of an agreement with the New York State Department of Justice. legal settlement which also prohibits the organizations from continuing to provide immigration legal services in the future.
The claim process for restitution of fees paid to these organizations is the final phase of a settlement carried out in 2013 by Attorney General Schneiderman. The initial demand was filed in 2010 by then-Attorney General Andrew Cuomo against IIF and IPA for misleading clients about their legal credentials and ability to obtain guaranteed immigration results, for immigration services that were never lawfully rendered, and for charging excessive fees by a purportedly non-profit entity, as they claimed to be.
In 2010, the NY District Attorney's Office also shut down 7 other companies offering fraudulent legal services to immigrants as part of the authorities' effort to combat immigration fraud.
To be considered for restitution, former clients who paid for or received fraudulent legal services from IIF and/or IPA must submit a claim form by October 13, 2014.
Copies of the claim form, instructions on how to fill out the form, and information on how to submit the claim for compensation can be found on the website www.nylag.org/IPA.
If you have questions about completing and submitting a claim form, you can email them to us or call the Hotline at 212-514-4265.
The amount of each award will be determined after all eligible claim forms are received and reviewed.