Beware of notaries
All too often my office receives very sad cases of entire immigrant families who have been deceived and defrauded by individuals who are neither qualified nor licensed to practice as Immigration Attorneys.
In the United States, unlike our countries in Latin America, a notary is not a lawyer. Notaries public in the United States are empowered to attest to the authenticity of signatures on documents. A lawyer may be a notary, but a notary public is not necessarily a lawyer.
This confusion is often used by unscrupulous individuals posing as immigration specialists calling themselves “Notary Publics” or “Immigration Legal Consultants”. U.S. law only empowers Attorneys at Law to give legal advice. Non-attorneys who market themselves as “legal consultants” or “notaries public” are not authorized or qualified to assist with immigration law issues and matters.
These notaries often abuse and benefit from people of their own ethnic community. Some try to offer legal services, but are not competent. Still, others keep your money and neither present your documents nor intend to help you in any way. Don’t let them harm you or your family!
DO NOT BE FOOLED
By offering too much, and knowing too little, unauthorized notaries destroy the dreams of immigrants. They propose low costs and immediate results for all types of procedures, from citizenship acquisition to green card renewal. They are generally unfamiliar with immigration laws. Even if they actually do the work they offer, such as filing the green card application, they may do it wrong and cause permanent damage. In fact, many notaries are not even notaries, these individuals are simply swindlers, capturing the trust of their “clients”, and their money, without offering any results.
PROTECT YOUR FAMILY'S DREAMS
To get rid of fraud, use common sense. Several people hear what they want to hear. Be smart! If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Do not trust a person who tells you about a new secret immigration law or assures you that he or she has influence with any government agency or body.
Do not pay anyone to refer you to an immigration lawyer.
Do not pay anyone to provide you with immigration forms. These can always be obtained free of charge from the Immigration website: www.uscis.gov.
Stay away from an immigration attorney who is not licensed to practice law. Demand to know from which State of the Union the Attorney’s license is from.
Never sign an application that contains false information, and avoid signing blank forms. If you must sign a blank form, be sure to obtain a copy of the completed form and review it before it is submitted.
Always ask for proof that your documents were filed, ask for a copy of the filing receipt issued by the government when you file or serve any documents in your case.
Demand a written contract showing all fees and expenses, make sure you get a receipt, especially if your payment is in cash. If conditions change over time, request a written explanation.
Do not accept that any person seeks or “finds” you asponsor or a spouse to obtain residency, this is illegal.
I hope this article serves to open people’s eyes to the harmful and dishonest behavior of these predators. I am heartbroken to hear the heartbreaking stories of immigrants who seek the advice of an attorney after some notario has destroyed any chance this person had of receiving a green card, staying in the country or obtaining citizenship.
Because the legal profession is dedicated to helping others, one simply cannot stand by and watch the harm that notaries cause.
WHAT RIGHTS DO CUSTOMERS HAVE?
If you work with an immigration attorney or accredited representative, you have certain rights. You have the right to:
A written contract or statement, explaining specifically the work to be performed by the attorney in your case and the fees and expenses to be charged for such work.
Obtain information on the status of your case and what has been filed.
A complete copy of absolutely all forms or documents submitted in your case.
An explanation of the accounting of your case, specifying in detail the total cost and payment receipts.
When it comes to costs, don’t forget that there are Immigration Attorneys who offer free first consultation, or payment plans. Always consult a lawyer first.