Provides for the regulation of the licensure and practice of immigration providers by the department of state in order to protect immigrants from exploitation.
TITLE OF BILL:
An act to amend the general business law, in relation to immigration providers
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
To establish a licensing requirement of immigration consultants by the state and to protect immigrants from fraudulent immigration consultants.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
The bill amends General Business Article 28-C (Chapter 463).
This legislation would grant New York State Department the power to issue licenses to immigration providers and require those who act as such to be so licensed. Licensees would be required to disclose all relevant information to the Department, including any prior convictions, to determine their eligibility for a license. At the time of licensing, they must file with secretary of state a surety bond.
In addition, licensees would be required to display the license certificate and to pay a filing fee. The state also has to make public the list of licensees on its website and upon the re-lest of any party.
The State should also establish a procedure for filing complaints and investigating the complaint within 30 days of such a complaint. The Department of State has the power to revoke or suspend such licenses upon proof of wrongdoing on the part of the immigration provider.
Any persons aggrieved by the immigration consultants would be entitled to relief in the form of a civil action as well as a criminal action. The injured party would be eligible for reasonable attorney fees and costs, including a minimal recovery of five thousand dollars.
Currently, there are laws that prohibit immigration providers to conduct themselves and advertise themselves as lawyers. However, there is no state regulation of these providers. As the growth of immigrants increase, there is a great need for legislation to prevent immigration providers from taking advantage of these immigrants. Such legislation would act as a safeguard against those who practice fraudulent activities against immigrants for mere economic gains. Furthermore, the business of immigration consultants is virtually unregulated by the state.
The state legislation should take active measures to protect against corrupt practices by immigration consultants. These consultants try
to deprive immigrants of the fundamental liberties which they seek to achieve as citizens of our country. Also, corrupt immigration consultants create a negative first impression of the democratic process by using the immigrants for their own selfish profits at the expense of unwary immigrants. This legislation seeks to regulate the business of immigration consultants and to protect immigrants from those who do not have the requisite expertise in or commitment to that business.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
2011-12: S.1479/A.10420 - Died in Consumer Protection 2009-10: S.2283A/A.4430A - CONSUMER PROTECTION/Reported to Codes 2008: S.2473 2006: S.8133
Licensing fees will cover the cost of setting up licensing and enforcement.
The first of January next succeeding the date on which it shall have become a law, with provisions.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 709 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE (PREFILED) January 9, 2013 ___________Introduced by Sen. PARKER -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Consumer Protection AN ACT to amend the general business law, in relation to immigration providers THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. The general business law is amended by adding a new section 460-k to read as follows: S 460-K. LICENSES. 1. THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE SHALL ISSUE LICENSES TO IMMIGRATION PROVIDERS AND, UPON APPLICATION, TO ISSUE RENEWAL LICENSES EVERY TWO YEARS. THE SECRETARY OF STATE SHALL ENFORCE THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ARTICLE GOVERNING THE FILING AND MAINTENANCE OF SURETY BONDS AND THE APPLICATION FOR LICENSURE AND/OR RENEWAL. 2. NO PERSON SHALL ENGAGE IN THE BUSINESS OF IMMIGRANT ASSISTANCE SERVICE AS DEFINED IN SECTION FOUR HUNDRED SIXTY-A OF THIS ARTICLE, OR ADVERTISE HIS OR HER BUSINESS TO BE THAT OF IMMIGRATION PROVIDER WITHOUT HAVING FIRST OBTAINED FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE A LICENSE TO DO SO, PURSUANT TO THIS ARTICLE. 3. NO PERSON SHALL DISSEMINATE BY ANY MEANS ANY STATEMENT INDICATING DIRECTLY OR BY IMPLICATION THAT THE PERSON ENGAGES IN THE BUSINESS OF IMMIGRANT ASSISTANCE SERVICE AS DEFINED IN SECTION FOUR HUNDRED SIXTY-A OF THIS ARTICLE OR ACTS IN THE CAPACITY OF AN IMMIGRATION PROVIDER, OR PROPOSES TO ENGAGE IN THE BUSINESS OR ACT IN THE CAPACITY OF AN IMMI- GRATION PROVIDER, UNLESS THE PERSON HAS ON FILE WITH THE SECRETARY OF STATE A BOND AND LICENSE, IN THE AMOUNT AND SUBJECT TO THE TERMS DESCRIBED IN SECTION FOUR HUNDRED SIXTY-G OF THIS ARTICLE. 4. ANY PERSON INTENDING TO ENGAGE, AS AN IMMIGRATION PROVIDER, IN ANY ONE OR MORE OF THE ACTIVITIES SET FORTH IN THIS ARTICLE SHALL FILE WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE A WRITTEN APPLICATION AND DISCLOSURE, ON FORMS PROVIDED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE, CONTAINING SUCH INFORMATION ANDEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD02768-01-3 S. 709 2
DOCUMENTATION TO BE RETAINED BY THE SECRETARY OF STATE AS THE SECRETARY OF STATE MAY REQUIRE BY RULE AND REGULATION, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO: (A) NAME, DATE OF BIRTH, RESIDENCE ADDRESS, BUSINESS ADDRESS, RESI- DENCE TELEPHONE NUMBER, AND BUSINESS TELEPHONE NUMBER; (B) EXPERIENCE THE PROVIDER HAS HAD WITH IMMIGRATION; (C) PLACES OF BUSINESS AND EMPLOYEES, IF ANY; (D) NAME AND ADDRESS OF THE PROVIDER'S AGENT FOR SERVICE OF PROCESS IF ONE IS REQUIRED OR HAS BEEN APPOINTED AND, IF APPLICABLE, THE NAME, BUSINESS ADDRESS, BUSINESS TELEPHONE AND AGENT FOR SERVICE OF PROCESS OF THE CORPORATION OR PARTNERSHIP EMPLOYING THE IMMI- GRATION PROVIDER; (E) A RECORD OF ANY PRIOR CONVICTIONS UNDER THIS ARTI- CLE. THE SECRETARY OF STATE SHALL DEVELOP THE DISCLOSURE FORM REQUIRED TO FILE AN APPLICATION AND BOND PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION AND SECTION FOUR HUNDRED SIXTY-G OF THIS ARTICLE. 5. THE SECRETARY OF STATE SHALL CHARGE AND COLLECT A FILING FEE AT THE TIME OF APPLICATION AND/OR RENEWAL TO COVER THE COST OF FILING THE BOND REQUIRED BY SECTION FOUR HUNDRED SIXTY-G OF THIS ARTICLE. S 2. Section 460-h of the general business law, as added by chapter 463 of the laws of 2004, is amended to read as follows: S 460-h. Enforcement. 1. Upon any violation of this article, an appli- cation may be made by the attorney general in the name of the people of the state to a court having jurisdiction to issue an injunction, and upon notice to the respondent of not fewer than five days, to enjoin and restrain the continuance of the violation. If it shall appear to the satisfaction of the court or justice that the defendant has, in fact, violated this article, an injunction may be issued by such court or justice, enjoining and restraining any further violation, without requiring proof that any person has, in fact, been injured or damaged thereby. In any such proceeding, the court may make allowances to the attorney general as provided in paragraph six of subdivision (a) of section eighty-three hundred three of the civil practice law and rules, and direct restitution. Whenever the court shall determine that a violation of this article has occurred, the court may impose a civil penalty of not more than seven thousand five hundred dollars for each violation. 2. A PERSON CLAIMING TO BE AGGRIEVED BY ANY VIOLATION OF THIS ARTICLE BY AN IMMIGRATION PROVIDER MAY BRING A CIVIL ACTION FOR INJUNCTIVE RELIEF, DAMAGES OR BOTH. THE COURT SHALL GRANT A PREVAILING PLAINTIFF REASONABLE ATTORNEYS' FEES AND COSTS. ANY RECOVERY OR PROCEEDING IN A CIVIL ACTION SHALL NOT PRECLUDE AN ACTION BY THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OR DISTRICT ATTORNEY TO PURSUE CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST AN IMMIGRATION PROVIDER. MINIMAL RECOVERY FOR THE PLAINTIFF SHALL BE FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS. S 3. This act shall take effect on the first of January next succeed- ing the date on which it shall have become a law; provided, however that effective immediately, the addition, amendment and/or repeal of any rule or regulation necessary for the implementation of this act on its effec- tive date are authorized and directed to be made and completed on or before such effective date.