NEW YORK, Aug. 7, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A $2.2 million Immigrant Restitution Fund has been created to provide restitution to former clients of the International Immigrants Foundation (IIF) and International Professional Association (IPA), two non-profit organizations operating in New York City that allegedly defrauded immigrants and engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.
To be considered for restitution, former clients who paid for or received legal services from IIF and/or IPA must submit a claim form by October 23, 2014. The New York Legal Assistance Group will administer the Immigrant Restitution Fund and evaluate claims and forward payments to former IIF Members and/or IPA clients who paid for or received legal services. For more information call the Fund Hotline at 212-514-4265 or go to: www.nylag.org/IPA.
In 2010 the New York State Office of the Attorney General filed a lawsuit against the International Immigrants Foundation and International Professional Association alleging that IIF and IPA misrepresented their ability and qualifications to provide immigration-related legal services, defrauded immigrants with false promises of citizenship and residency, engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, illegally charged excessive fees for services, and violated laws governing not-for-profit corporations.
The New York State Office of the Attorney General alleged that IIF lured immigrants to purchase "memberships" with the organization by promising members they would receive special privileges such as free or low cost legal fees. Once members requested legal representation, however, they were directed to IPA, where they were generally required to pay additional fees to have immigration papers prepared and filed—often by non-attorneys who were unqualified to do such work.
On May 29, 2013, the Court approved a Settlement Agreement between the Office of the Attorney General, Defendant Edward Juarez, and Defendants IIF and IPA. As a result of the settlement IIF and IPA were closed, and Defendant Juarez agreed that he would no longer provide immigration legal services or hold any position with financial responsibility for any non-profit in the State of New York.
Each year, the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) provides free civil legal services to over 75,000 New Yorkers who cannot afford private attorneys. Founded in 1990, NYLAG operates on the premise that low-income individuals can improve their lives significantly if given access to the justice system. NYLAG's Immigrant Protection Unit, one of the largest immigrant services providers in New York State, provides low-income immigrant communities with comprehensive legal services, and educates immigrant communities about the dangers of fraudulent immigration law practitioners and other barriers to attaining lawful residence. For more information, visit: www.nylag.org.