Whenever the government announces new changes to immigration law or procedures, it is inevitable that we see many, many people who suddenly appear trying to make money quickly off of the immigrant community by processing cases or filling out forms for money. For example, the Hispanic Community unfortunately has many “notarios” who receive money to discuss immigration cases or help people fill out and file immigration forms. On many occasions, the activities of these people are illegal, and they provide false or inaccurate information, or do not file the cases correctly. Many people go to these people because they are sometimes less expensive than attorneys, but the errors they commit could have devastating, if not permanent consequences for the immigrant.
The U.S. government and the American Immigration Lawyers Association are very concerned about this problem, and have created the following websites to warn people about these practices:
As explained on these websites, “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.” The only people in your community who are legally authorized to give you advice on immigration law, help you fill out immigration forms, or file a case for you are licensed attorneys and organizations that are accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). The USCIS website lists the following ways to avoid immigration scams:
In many Latin American countries, a person who is a “notario publico” (“notary public”) has significantly greater power than a notary public in the United States. In many Spanish-speaking nations, “notarios” are powerful attorneys with special legal credentials. In the U.S., however, notary publics are only allowed to witness the signing of important documents and administer oaths. A “notarios publico” in the U.S. is not educated in the law, and may not provide you with any legal services related to immigration. Unfortunately, however, these “notarios” take advantage of the immigrant community by illegaly performing legal services.
I have seen many sad cases of people and families who went to a notario or other unauthorized person for help with an immigration case, and then suffered significant consequences as a result. I have been hired many times by people who went to a notario because they are less expensive, but then find themselves in deportation or having to pay thousands more to an attorney to fix the mistakes of the notario than an experienced attorney would not have made. I am also amazed by some of the horribly incorrect advise I have heard notarios give to their clients. Remember that these people do not have a law license, so they really have nothing to lose if they mess up on a case. Lawyers, on the other hand, have to keep current on changes in the law and perform cases correctly or they may be in danger of losing their license and their career.
Most immigration attorneys charge very little to nothing for an initial consultation. When your entire future in the United States is at risk, it is worth it to spend a few extra dollars to make sure your case is done correctly. Call us at Deere Law at (719) 633-3377 for a consultation to learn more about the upcoming changes to Immigration law and procedures, or for any other questions concerning your immigration, criminal or personal injury case.