Protect Yourself. Protect Your Family.
How Can You Avoid Fraud?
Use 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 law or claims to have connections or special influence with any agency.
· Don’t pay money to someone to refer you to a lawyer.
· Walk away if a lawyer doesn’t have a license.
· Never sign an application that contains false information, and try to avoid signing blank forms. If you must sign a blank form, make sure you get a copy of the completed form and review it for accuracy before it is filed.
· Always get proof of filing—a copy or government filing receipt—when anything is submitted in your case.
· Insist on a written contract that details 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.
Take Action if You Fall Victim!
If a consultant commits fraud or otherwise makes a serious error that hurts your case, you may be able to fix the problem by reporting their misconduct.
If you have a complaint about a notario or immigration consultant, contact your local bar association, consumer advocate, or prosecutor for advice.
Protect Your Family’s Dreams
Many noncitizens who would otherwise qualify for immigration benefits discover they will never be successful because an immigration “consultant” destroyed their dreams. Don’t let this happen to you.
While many legitimate community and religious organizations provide immigration-related services, non-lawyers who advertise as legal “consultants” or “notarios” are not authorized or qualified to help with immigration matters.
By promising too much—and knowing too little—unauthorized consultants often shatter immigrants’ dreams. Many are little better than scam artists, taking their client’s trust—and money— and never having to answer for the results.
It is against the law for “public notaries” or even foreign lawyers who are not licensed in the United States to provide immigration advice—even “just” filling out forms is something that only a licensed, properly trained lawyer should do.
Who Can Help with Your Immigration Questions?
Only a U.S. licensed lawyer or accredited representative is authorized
and qualified to assist with your immigration case. Unlike consultants, lawyers have completed extensive education and training before being licensed to represent clients. You can verify whether a lawyer is in good standing and licensed to help you by contacting your state bar association.
Lawyers are also required to maintain high ethical standards— and if they don’t, you can contact your local bar association for action. When a consultant promises to help—but doesn’t deliver—the damage may not be fixable, and there may be no one
to turn to.
Don’t be fooled! If you consult a lawyer, make sure the lawyer is licensed. If you work with an accredited representative, ask to see the accreditation.
What Rights Do Clients Have?
If you work with a lawyer or accredited representative, you have certain rights.
· You have the right to a written CONTRACT, explaining the
scope of representation and fees.
· You have the right to be kept INFORMED about your case
status and what has been filed.
· You have the right to a complete COPY of any forms or
documents submitted in your case.
· You have the right to an ACCOUNTING of your case,
detailing the total costs, as well as receipts for payments.