Complaints about an Immigration Attorney or Consultant

What do the new laws in California do?

What do I do if I have already given money to an immigration attorney or consultant?

How do I complain against an immigration consultant?

Citizenship is a dream for many foreign immigrants. If you’re an immigrant living in the United States, you may be eager for new laws that will affect the way you can become a citizen.

You may even have already consulted an immigration consultant or attorney, hoping to get the paperwork ready. But be wary: There are already reports that immigration consultants and attorneys have taken money for immigration reform services — including helping people seeking citizenship or applying for deportation relief — and in California, this is now illegal.

If you are one of these people, you need to know that immigration lawyers and consultants cannot take your money for services related to immigration reform or President Obama's executive order.

In California, new laws prevent them from charging you for those services — such as collecting or filling out any paperwork or documents —  before the federal government adopts immigration reform laws or deportation relief applications are available. If they do take your money, they must return the money or put it in an account and tell you where it’s being kept. If an immigration consultant took your money, they may even have to pay a fine.

What do the new laws in California do?

Under the new laws:

  • Immigration attorneys must account for any money they have already accepted from you for immigration reform services or services related to Obama's executive order. They also must either give you back the money or set it aside in an account for safekeeping.
  • Your immigration attorney must also give you written notice that contains information about where you can complain about his or her services. (If you speak another language, the State Bar has developed multilingual versions of the notice form available on our website.)
  • Immigration consultants cannot call themselves “notarios.” This title is confusing because in some Latin American countries, the law allows notarios to do legal work only an attorney can do in the U.S. To find out more, see our story about Immigration Consultants.

What do I do if I have already given money to an immigration attorney or consultant?

If you have already given money to an attorney or immigration consultant, they must give your money back.

Don’t be afraid to complain. Law enforcement officials will investigate your complaint regardless of your immigration status. Here’s are some ways to file a complaint:

  • To file a complaint against a lawyer licensed in California, go to the State Bar’s website or call 800-843-9053.
  • You can also complain to the Executive Office for Immigration Review for the U.S. Department of Justice, which handles complaints against immigration attorneys who are licensed in any state. Call 703-305-0470 to get a complaint form.

How do I complain against an immigration consultant?

To complain against an immigration consultant, contact the California Office of the Attorney General by calling:

  • California Department of Justice

Office of Immigrant Assistance
888-587-0557

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