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For Immediate Release:
August 12, 2014
Contact: 518-486-9846
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The New York State Office for New Americans (ONA) opened registration today for a free two-day series of Immigration Law Training courses to be held in Buffalo, NY on September 2-3, 2014 to help not-for-profit organizations and non-attorneys obtain recognition and accreditation by the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). BIA accreditation allows non-attorney staff of recognized agencies to represent individuals before U.S. immigration authorities. This training is being held as part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s opportunity agenda for New Americans, which aims to help immigrants fully participate in New York State’s civic and economic life and is being conducted for ONA by the New York Immigration Coalition.

“New York State is taking proactive steps to protect immigrants from fraud perpetrated by scam artists posing as experts of immigration law,” said New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales. “Increasing the availability of BIA-accredited organizations is another step in helping to reduce this exploitation by unscrupulous individuals. We encourage all not-for-profit organizations serving New York State’s immigrant community are encouraged to take advantage of this free and important training.”

The training will take place at the ONA Opportunity Center hosted by Catholic Charities Immigration & Refugee Assistance Program, 20 Herkimer Street, Buffalo, 14213 on Tuesday September 2, and Wednesday, September 3, 2014. For a full schedule of all available courses, and to register, please go to: For any questions, please contact Jonathan Vidal, 212-627-2227 Ext. 227 or
“The New York Immigration Coalition is proud to continue to work with the New York State Office for New Americans as the official State ONA BIA Trainer,” said Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC). “It is more important than ever to ensure that accessible, affordable legal help is available to new New Yorkers. We are proud to be part of ONA’s mission to significantly expand these services.” 

Just recently, Governor Cuomo signed legislation to better protect immigrants living in New York State from potential fraud or wrongdoing as they seek immigration-related assistance. These new New Yorkers will now benefit from stricter assistance-provider requirements, including the addition of a new crime to discourage this type of fraud. The legislation will strengthen protections by enhancing translation requirements, increasing civil penalties for violations of the law, and barring the use of job titles that aim to mislead an assistance-seeker into believing that a service provider is an attorney or otherwise specialized professional when the provider has no such credential. It creates two new crimes, felony and misdemeanor immigration assistance fraud.

Only duly-licensed attorneys or BIA-accredited representatives may assist in immigration proceedings before the Executive Office for Immigration Review’s immigration courts and Board of Immigration Appeals (Board), or before the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Training is a requirement of the BIA accreditation process. 

The bill codification also make the Office for New Americans the first state-level immigrant office created by statute in the country. Governor Cuomo launched the Office last year to help our State's immigrants contribute to the economy and become part of the family of New York. A network of 27 neighborhood-based ONA Opportunity Centers, located throughout New York State in culturally competent, language-accessible, community-based organizations, serves as the cornerstone of ONA’s efforts to help New Americans fully participate in the civic and economic life of New York State. The ONA Opportunity Center network is supported by a team of attorneys who are experts in immigration law and a toll-free, multilingual hotline that can respond to general questions about immigration and naturalization and provide referrals to other immigrant-related public and private programs. Over the first three years, the ONA Opportunity Center network will assist more than 100,000 New Americans with English-for-Speakers-of-Other-Languages training; naturalization and DACA assistance; federal immigration law and policies information and referrals; and business development training.

For more information, visit the ONA website at, like us on Facebook at and follow us on Twitter at @NYSNewAmericans; Hashtag: #NYSNewAmericans. Information and referrals are also available through the New York State New Americans Hotline (1-800-566-7636), a toll-free, multilingual information center providing live assistance on general questions about immigration and naturalization.


Laz Benitez/Edison Alban (NYS Office for New Americans)                             212-417-5803

Jonathan Vidal (New York Immigration Coalition)                                            212-627-2227