Immigration Lawyer License Defense
If you are an attorney practicing immigration law in New York City, you are probably aware that in recent years, federal authorities have been increasingly vigilant in detecting and punishing immigration fraud. Among those affected are not just the would-be immigrants, but also the individuals who facilitate the fraud. As an attorney, you bear particular responsibility for your client?s statements and actions.
Immigration attorneys are often called upon to get their client?s stories and form them into a cohesive and convincing narrative. This can be difficult to do, especially when there is a language barrier. In many cases, there is a thin line between putting a client?s story in order and making additions, or encouraging the client to exaggerate or invent facts. If authorities suspect that the latter activity has occurred, both the client and the attorney may be accused of committing immigration fraud.
If authorities find that a law firm has been engaging in some type of immigration fraud, an attorney who has delegated the actual task of inventing the fraudulent claims to an employee or contractor will still be held responsible for the fraud, along with the employee or contractor.
Many cases of immigration fraud involve asylum claims. U.S. law specifies particular circumstances that will give rise to a claim of asylum; some of these circumstances, such as claims of forced abortion, tend to be specific to certain countries. Thus, a common form of immigration fraud centers around fraudulent applications for asylum that are based on false claims of persecution. Attorneys who commit this type of fraud typically invent the claims and coach the client on the details needed to make the claim believable. They or their employees will also help the client obtain forged or false documents to substantiate the claim.
But what if an attorney is not aware that the client?s claims are false and that the documents submitted are forged?
While no one expects an attorney to play top detective, it is the attorney?s responsibility to take reasonable precautions to ensure that the attorney is not putting his or her name to a document that contains falsehoods. If the client?s application raises red flags that authorities believe should have alerted the attorney to the fraud, the attorney may well be held liable for immigration fraud. High-volume practices where applications and documents are not carefully reviewed are especially vulnerable to accusations of fraud.
What are the Penalties?
If an attorney is found guilty of immigration fraud, the repercussions can be quite severe. Criminal penalties typically include time in prison and forfeitures of the proceeds form the fraud. Further, the attorney may be suspended or banned from practicing in immigration court, or may even be suspended or disbarred.
If you are an NYC attorney who is being investigated or have been arrested for immigration fraud, our law firm can help. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys specialize in defending professionals who have been accused of fraud or professional misconduct, whether in an administrative or a court setting.
Call our experienced NYC criminal defense attorneys at? (212) 577-6677 to schedule an immediate consultation.