Thursday Legal: My employer hid my passport, now what?

photo from Google/unrelated to article
By a New York Immigration attorney 
Many undocumented workers live in the constant fear of being ”picked  up” by the ICE. This is why they try to stay “under the radar,” never complaining to anyone about anything, while often tolerating all forms of abuse.
Unfortunately, some “employers” who want to control an undocumented nanny or a domestic worker, will scare her with the threat of being reported to the authorities. To avoid this, they say, she must  surrender her passport to them. The nanny may never see that passport again. 
What can a nanny do in that situation?
Here is my advice: threaten to report your employer to the police. If your employer refuses to return your documents, and/or tries to extort you or scare you, report it! Taking  someone’s personal identification from them and extorting them is a crime in the State of New York. This means that the employer will face criminal charges. 
If the passport is not returned to you, ask your embassy to issue a new passport. Many embassies do so without any reports to the local US authorities. 
What if the Police discover that the nanny is undocumented? 
If criminal charges are brought against the employer, the person might be eligible for a U visa for victims of crimes. Also, depending on the case, there might be possibility of applying for protection under human trafficking provisions. 
If you are worried about your situation please contact us directly at 917-885-2261. 
Alena Shautsova is a principal at the Law Office of Alena Shautsova, a full service Immigration Law Firm (please make it a hyperlink with an anchor text New York Immigration Firm) in Brooklyn, New York. The author can be reached at  and encourages her readers to contact her with questions.