Friday, June 30, 2017

Single Women Are Buying Homes Faster Than Single Men: Here’s Why

Single Women Are Buying Homes Faster Than Single Men: Here’s Why

Skip the spouse. Buy the house. The news and research about women and money can be dreary. Women earn less than their male counterparts, pay harsher workplace penalties for pursuing parenthood, struggle more with debt, and save less for retirement.  But there’s one area of personal finance where single women are outpacing men in the U.S., and it's a significant one: home ownership.

With low interest rates and uncertainty as to where the real estate market will be in the next six months, many people are opting into ownership and investing in a home. Interestingly, according to the National Association of Realtors, approximately 17 percent of home buyers in the United States last year were women, which is a much higher percentage than the 7 percent of single men who invested in a home. While the statistics may be interesting enough on their own, here are some of the reasons why women may be opting in. 

Single Parent Security

The numbers don't lie, and it's a fact that there are a much higher number of single mothers in the United States than fathers, which makes home ownership that much more of a benefit. With low interest rates, it's common sense that many single mothers will be flocking towards the housing market to find stable housing for their family in a market that may fluctuate in the coming months.

Making a Lifestyle Choice
The days are long gone of women having to invest in a home when they get married, and for many women being single is a very popular lifestyle choice. This means that many single women are choosing to invest on their own terms and at their own time so that they can reap the benefits of home ownership. As Jessica Lautz of the National Association of Realtors says, "They really value home ownership, and they're willing to give up a lot to have a home of their own."

It's In the Numbers
There are certainly more than a few reasons why single women are flocking to the real estate market, but demographics are changing rapidly. While it was once the case that most people were married, or would marry, more single women are opting out of marriage and opening up a wider market for single-person home purchases. Given the low interest rates and the increasing number of women choosing to be single, purchasing a home offers a solid bet and a financial boon.

With a home offering up the benefit of security and the advantage of being a good financial choice, it's no surprise that increasingly women are turning to home ownership on their own. If you're contemplating purchasing a home of your own, you may want to contact one of our local real estate professionals for more information about opportunities in your area at 888-670-679

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

DCA Warns Immigrant About "10-Year Visa Scam

DCA Warns Immigrant About "10-Year Visa Scam

Immigration Service Providers and Immigration Lawyers Misleading Immigrant New Yorkers into Believing that they Can Obtain a Visa or Green Card Based on 10 Years of Residency within the United States

NEW YORK, NY—Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today issued a warning to consumers about an immigration scam called the “10-Year Visa Scam.” Preying on fears and desperation to find a legal way to stay in the United States, some immigration service providers and immigration lawyers are telling immigrants, through word-of-mouth and deceptive advertising, that they can obtain a visa or green card if they have lived in the U.S. for 10 years. The scams are sometimes advertised under the banner “easy way to obtain a green card!” What these individuals fail to disclose is that, as part of the process for obtaining a green card or visa based upon residency, the immigrant must first enter deportation proceedings. They also often fail to explain the other requirements for this so-called “10-year visa,” including that the immigrant must prove “extreme, unusual, and exceptional hardship” to their family members, which is not “easy” to do. In at least one example, an immigrant paid a provider approximately $25,000. As a result of this scam, these consumers are left paying high costs for a service that they have been deceived into believing is safe and easy – when in fact the opposite is true.

This scam is placing immigrant New Yorkers at extraordinary risk while grossly misrepresenting the visa application process. These deceptive tactics violate the City’s Consumer Protection Law and DCA is proactively investigating anyone who engages in this practice. We encourage consumers who have witnessed advertisements promoting the 10-Year Visa Scam or who have fallen victim to the scam file a complaint about “false advertising” at or call 311.

“Some immigration service providers and immigration lawyers are preying on the desperation and fear of immigrants, all so they can turn a profit,” said DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “We want to make sure that all consumers know the hidden risks involved in this 10-Year Visa Scam, which requires immigrants to actually enter into deportation proceedings without the guarantee that their visa application will even be approved. DCA encourages New Yorkers, regardless of their immigration status, to utilize the City’s free and secure services to ensure they are keeping themselves and their families safe.”

In addition to the 10-Year Visa Scam, DCA would like to warn New Yorkers about illegal and predatory immigration assistance providers who prey on vulnerable New Yorkers’ fear by luring them with false promises of work authorization, green cards, or citizenship when they may not be qualified to provide the services and do so in exchange for hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of their hard-earned dollars.

“The City is working to alert immigrant communities against fraudsters offering this 10-Year Visa Scam,” said Nisha Agarwal, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “This scam, rather than granting ‘easy’ access to green cards, could in fact put more people at risk for deportations. I thank the Department of Consumer Affairs and Commissioner Salas for their help in informing immigrant New Yorkers of dangerous scams. And as we have done through our Know Your Rights Forums across the city, I encourage New Yorkers to call 311 to report fraud."

Additional information for immigrants:

·  Do not believe any provider that claims to have special influence with immigration authorities.

·  In New York State, a notary public, or notario público, is not an attorney. A notary public cannot give legal advice, draft legal papers, or review documents for legality.

· If someone is not an authorized immigration service provider, they can only read the form to you, translate, and write down information that you provide.

· Get a second opinion before filling out any immigration applications.

Get a consultation from an attorney who is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Call right now to set up an appointment. Call 718-222-3155. Remember, the lawyer you hire, does make a difference!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Immigrants’ Access to Counsel Topic of New Rulemaking Petition

Immigrants’ Access to Counsel Topic of New Rulemaking Petition

WASHINGTON, DC – The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the American Immigration Council (Council) have petitioned the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State to issue new regulations that will ensure all immigrants have access to legal counsel in secondary and deferred inspection, as well as overseas consular interviews. If the agency fails to respond or denies the petition, AILA and the Council may pursue litigation in federal court.
Benjamin Johnson, AILA Executive Director, explained:
“Due process is never optional but this is especially true in today’s tumultuous atmosphere. Everyone needs access to legal counsel in immigration proceedings, from start to finish – when applying for visas at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, when seeking recognition or relinquishment of U.S. citizenship or nationality status, and when seeking admission to the United States. Earlier this year, many immigrants were detained for hours by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at airports around the country and denied access to counsel even as officers were asking them detailed, complicated questions about their immigration status. Immigration law is incredibly complex and denying someone access to counsel is contrary to basic American principles of due process.”
Beth Werlin, Executive Director of the Council, noted:
“Access to counsel in government proceedings is fundamental to ensuring that our laws are properly executed and that due process is afforded those navigating the immigration system. Barring lawyers from participating—particularly when a complicated legal issue arises—can result in both citizens and noncitizens being subjected to prolonged and unnecessary detention and questioning at a port of entry. Moreover, the lack of meaningful access to counsel can result in an unjust refusal of a visa, denial of admission, or removal from the U.S.  The presence of counsel allows proceedings to move more efficiently and effectively, a benefit for the government in a time of backlogs and delays in the immigration arena.”
  • With few exceptions, lawyers are generally not permitted to accompany their clients to visa interviews and other proceedings at U.S. Embassies and Consulates, or during the secondary or deferred inspection processes.
  • Even close relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, as well as employees of U.S. corporations and non-profit entities, are often denied access to their attorneys at critical stages of the immigration process.
  • Further, individuals seeking to pursue complex claims to U.S. citizenship or nationality, or to relinquish their U.S. citizenship, are often denied access to counsel.
  • The presence of counsel could improve the quality and efficiency of immigration decision‐making by ensuring that immigration officers have relevant evidence and legal analysis and by encouraging clients to be as forthcoming as possible.
  • Attorneys could also protect the rights of their clients, who often lack the specialized knowledge required to properly present their own claims, whether the issue is eligibility for a visa or admission, or a claim to U.S. citizenship.
  • For example, a U.S. business may invest many thousands of dollars in a process that ends in the unnecessary denial of a visa at the consulate. A U.S. citizen can be separated from family for years due to an easily correctable issue. While many consular adjudications and admissions decisions are based on sound reasoning, there are also countless examples of improper and unjust refusals of admission and visa denials that are ultimately overturned.  Access to counsel can make a critical difference. 
  • On February 9, 2017, Senators Harris (D-CA), Blumenthal (D-CT), Booker (D-NJ), Carper (D-DE), Gillibrand (D-NY), Markey (D-MA), and Warren (D-MA) introduced a bill to guarantee access to counsel to those who are held or detained at a port of entry or at a detention facility overseen by CBP or ICE. A companion bill was introduced in the House by Representative Jayapal (D-WA).

Friday, June 2, 2017

Student Loan Debt Is Strangling Generations

Student Loan Debt Is Strangling Generations

Graduation season is in full bloom. And, many students are graduating into the doom of student loans. Student loan debt can be an albatross around the neck of recent graduates. Although the number of students with debt didn’t increase by much between 2004 and 2014, the amount of debt held by students did, according to the Institute for College Access and Success. About 69% of 2014 graduates from public and nonprofit universities and colleges had debt, compared to 65% in 2004. The average debt held by 2014 graduates was $28,950 per borrower, an increase that was twice the rate of inflation. It’s gotten so bad that student loans are now delaying the decision to get married which does not forecast a promising romantic future.
   Mike Kantrow, one of the nation’s leading financial experts, in an article, Why the Student Loan Crisis Is Even Worse Than People Think,, looks at the lasting impact of student lives stating: “I also found that students who graduate with excessive debt are about 10% more likely to say that it caused delays in major life events, such a buying a home, getting married, or having children. They are also about 20% more likely to say that their debt influenced their employment plans, causing them to take a job outside their field, to work more than they desired, or to work more than one job.”
   Soaring student loan debt also poses a risk to the nation's future economic growth. Before the Great Recession, total outstanding student loans ranked well below mortgages, auto loans, credit cards and home equity lines of credit as sources of household debt. Now it trails only mortgage debt, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. About 40 million consumers have at least one student loan, and the average debt was $29,000 last year, according to credit reporting firm Experian. Worse for students, delinquency rates on college loans are rising even as they decline for other types of household debt. The debt weighs down millions of Americans who might otherwise buy homes or start businesses. And the financial horror stories of debt-saddled students, combined with continued increases in tuition, could deter others from attending college and could produce a less-educated workforce.
  "The impact on future [economic] growth could be quite significant," said Cristian deRitis, who analyzes consumer credit economics for Moody's Analytics. The amount of outstanding student loans has skyrocketed, 76% to almost $1.2 trillion since 2009 as college costs have shot up and graduates have had difficulty finding good-paying jobs.

   The strangulation continues. Retirees  are now facing $36 billion in student loan debt. A recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has people talking about Americans aged 60 and older who owe billions of dollars in student loans. Really? Senior citizens? Student loans? That’s right. And what’s more, older borrowers are seeing their social security checks garnished for repayment of delinquent student loans. Some of the debt is new, taken on when the borrower decided later in life to go back to school. Some of the debt has been hanging around for years, with balances growing while the borrower struggles to keep up with payments. Still others borrowed on behalf of a child or grandchild.

   What can be done? How do we save generations from the strangulation of student loans? In a piece written for YES! Magazine, Raúl Carrillo, co-organizer for The Modern Money Network offered a solution that goes beyond debt forgiveness by arguing that instead of private or publicly funded college loans, the federal government should simply pay the tuition for those seeking higher education.

   "To put it bluntly," writes Carrillo, "there is no fiscal reason why the U.S. student debt crisis should exist. You may find this argument hard to believe," he continues, recognizing that "the way most politicians and journalists talk about the national debt and deficit spending makes free higher education sound impossible."

   Carillo says there's another way of looking at the crisis of student debt and funding of higher education—"a vision advocated by a growing movement of economists, lawyers, students, and financial practitioners who deal with the institutional nuts and bolts of the economy on a day-to-day basis."

   In simplest terms, Carillo's argument rests on the idea that the U.S. federal government, capable of printing its own money, is simply "not broke" in the way that deficit hawks, who always find money for war and prisons and tax breaks for corporations, say it is. The demand should be that government print money into existence on behalf something good, a public investment, like education.