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Avoid Notario Fraud in Immigration Applications

Anyone thinking of applying for the new Executive Actions by President Obama should avoid “notarios” and use attorneys or NGOs with legal expertise.  The American Immigration Lawyers Association has put out a public service announcement about this.

Only a licensed lawyer or accredited representative is authorized and qualified to assist you with your immigration case or green card application. Unlike consultants or notarios, 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.

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.

Sometimes, a law student participating in a law school clinic, legal aid program, or through a non-profit organization may represent a person as described by regulation.

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