If you're looking for help with an immigration issue and want to hire an immigration consultant rather than an attorney, it's important to understand what an immigration consultant can and cannot do for you.
Immigration consultants are people who can help consumers fill out paperwork and translate and submit forms to government agencies. In California, immigration consultants cannot give anyone legal advice and cannot represent you in Immigration Court. Attorneys or accredited representatives must be registered with the Executive Office of Immigration Review before appearing in Immigration Court.
However, in some Latino communities, immigration consultants often advertise their services as notarios públicos. Consumers can be confused by this title because in some countries, notarios have training similar to lawyers and can perform legal services.
In California, however, notaries public are not lawyers. Notarios take advantage of this confusion to demand fees for services they are not legally allowed to offer, defrauding consumers of large amounts of money in the process. Immigration consultants are not allowed to use the term notario to advertise their services.
If you want to hire an immigration consultant, here are a few tips to avoid fraud:
For more information on scams targeting immigrants and their families, read a consumer alert issued by the California Attorney.