Older New Americans & Refugees Legal Services Unit

In partnership with Erie County Senior Services, CELJ’s Older New Americans & Refugee Legal Services Unit provides specialized services to new Americans who are age 60 and above. If you are a senior and have a problem with Social Security’s SSI program, Medical Assistance, or have a nursing home or other family and immigration related matters, we may be able to help.
We are also available to provide immigration information, presentations, outreach and brochures. All services are provided in multiple languages without regard to race, religion or socioeconomic status. Translation services are available! To see if you qualify for our services or to request a presentation, please contact us at (716) 853-3087 ext. 233.


For more information about our program, download our brochure here.

Thank you to The New York Bar Foundation and Erie County Senior Services for their support of this program!



Older refugees have the added burden of trying to tackle aging-related problems while being displaced, facing language barriers and having cultural and nutritional differences that are not addressed at most senior centers. Additionally, they have issues that are specific to refugees, such as the potential loss of Social Security benefits after seven years.

Can you help me apply for citizenship?

We can provide you with advice and counsel on some immigration issues. If needed CELJ will connect our clients with full immigration representation.Currently, we accept cases involving citizenship, green card, family unification, and POA’s for people 60+ years old and their immediate family members (sons and daughters).

My parent currently receives Social Security benefits, but they are not yet a US Citizen. What if they don’t naturalize after 7 years?

Lawfully residing immigrants, including refugees, can qualify for SSI benefits. However, their eligibility is limited to seven years. If they do not naturalize in those seven years nor accrue a substantial work history in the Social Security system, they will lose their income unless they prove they are disabled, not just elderly. To find out more about naturalization or options for waivers, contact our office at 716-853-3087 or through our online intake system here.

I don’t speak English. Would your services still assist me with my immigration matter?

CELJ provides interpreters. We also utilize the language access line to communicate with all our clients.

[contact-form-7 id=”184″]