Are you getting the right immigration help?
Many people offer help with immigration services. Unfortunately, not all are authorized to do so. While many of these unauthorized practitioners mean well, all too many of them are out to rip you off. This is against the law and may be considered an immigration services scam.
If you need help filing an application or petition with USCIS, be sure to seek assistance from the right place, and from people that are authorized to help. Going to the wrong place can:
•Delay your application or petition
•Cost you unnecessary fees
•Possibly lead to removal proceedings
For more information on how to avoid scams visit: http://www.uscis.gov/avoid-scams
Don’t become a victim of dishonest immigration consultants often known as “notarios.” Immigration consultants, notaries public, and notarios cannot represent you in the immigration process. These people—especially notarios—prey on immigrants, often from the same ethnic community as the notarios themselves. For more information, go to http://www.stopnotariofraud.org/
NOTARIOS WILL TAKE YOUR MONEY AND YOUR DREAMS!
Many noncitizens find out that they will never get their green card or other immigration benefits because an unqualified immigration consultant or notario unlawfully working as an immigration lawyer destroyed their dreams.
Notarios are not lawyers. They also are not valid accredited representatives approved by the U.S. government. Often, they use the term “notario publico” to advertise their services in the Hispanic community. That title is not recognized in the United States as it is in some Latin American countries.
It is against the law for notaries public to provide immigration advice–even filling out forms or a green card application is something that only a properly licensed immigration lawyer or accredited representative should do.
Lawyers from another country who are not licensed in the United States also are not authorized by law to provide immigration services within the United States. While many legitimate community and religious organizations provide immigration-related services, non-lawyers who advertise as legal “consultants” or “notarios publicos” are not authorized or qualified to help with immigration law-related matters.
These notarios often take advantage of people from their own ethnic community. Some attempt to provide legal service, but are not competent. Still others will take your money without ever intending to file your documents or help you in any way. Don’t let them harm you and your family!
HAVE YOU BEEN HARMED BY A CONSULTANT OR NOTARIO?
By promising too much–and knowing too little–notarios often destroy the dreams of immigrants. They promise low-cost, quick results for everything from citizenship to green card renewal, but often do not know immigration law. Even if they actually do the work they promise, such as file green card papers, they may do it incorrectly and cause permanent harm. In fact, many notarios are simply scam artists, taking their “client’s” trust–and money–without ever delivering results.
PROTECT YOUR FAMILY’S DREAMS
To avoid fraud, use your common sense. Many people hear what they want to hear–be smart! If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Don’t believe it if someone tells you about a secret new immigration law or claims to have connections or special influence with any government office or agency
- Don’t pay money to someone to refer you to an immigration lawyer
- Walk away if an immigration lawyer doesn’t have a license
- Never sign an application that contains false information, and try not to sign blank forms. If you must sign a blank form, make sure you get a copy of the completed form and check to make sure all the information is correct before it is filed
- Always get proof that your papers have been filed–ask for a copy or government filing receipt whenever anything is submitted in your case
- Insist on a written contract that spells out all fees and expenses and make sure you receive a receipt, especially if you pay cash. If terms change, get a written explanation
- Don’t let anyone “find” you a sponsor or spouse to get you a green card–it’s illegal
WHERE AND HOW CAN YOU TAKE ACTION AGAINST THE CONSULTANT WHO HARMED YOU?
If you believe you are a victim of a notario unlawfully practicing immigration law, go to http://www.stopnotariofraud.org/get-help.php for the proper agency to contact in your state. You can ask the government to take action against the notario who harmed you and your complaint can make a difference.
WHAT RIGHTS DO CLIENTS HAVE?
If you work with an immigration lawyer or accredited representative, you have certain rights. You have the right to:
- A written statement or contract, explaining the work the lawyer will do in your case and the fees he or she will charge for that work
- Be kept informed about your case status and what has been filed
- A complete copy of any forms or documents submitted in your case
- An accounting of your case, spelling out the total costs, as well as receipts for payments
WHO IS AUTHORIZED TO HELP IMMIGRANTS WITH THEIR LEGAL MATTERS?
Only a licensed lawyer or accredited representative is authorized and qualified to assist you with your immigration case or green card application. Unlike consultants, immigration lawyers have completed extensive education and training before being licensed to represent clients. You can check whether an immigration lawyer is in good standing and licensed by contacting your state bar or state Supreme Court. You can also check to see if the immigration lawyer has been suspended or expelled from practice before the immigration court, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), or the immigration service (USCIS).
Accredited representatives (who are not licensed lawyers but can provide limited assistance in immigration matters) must work for a Recognized Organization and be authorized by the BIA. Only those recognized organizations appearing on this list are allowed to help with immigration matters. These organizations must either provide their services for free, or must only charge a nominal (small) fee for their services. Ask to see a copy of the decision from the BIA granting official recognition to the organization. Also, check the lists of currently and previously disciplined practitioners to see if the accredited representative has been expelled or suspended from practice before the immigration courts or immigration service.
For more information, go to http://www.stopnotariofraud.org/
To Find an Immigration Lawyer: The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is the only legal association in the United States for immigration attorneys. More than 12,000 immigration lawyers are members of AILA. www.aila.org
To get important immigration advice from a licensed professional, go to http://www.ailalawyer.com/