Beware: There has been a recent increase in “immigrations scams” by people claiming they are authorized to give legal advice or represent you before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Who can represent you: By law, the ONLY people who can give you legal advice or represent you before the USCIS are licensed attorneys or non-attorney representatives who are accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).
Who cannot represent you: “Notarios,” notary publics, and immigration consultants may NOT provide legal advice or represent you before the USCIS. While in some countries “notarios” are attorneys, this is not true in the United States. Notary Publics in the United States are not attorneys and do not have the same authority to give legal advice as “notarios” in other countries.
Watch out for common immigration scams: Immigration scammers often make promises that sound too good to be true. They may tell you they have a special relationship with the government, or can get you a green card or work permit very quickly, or can help you get benefits for which you do not qualify.
Scammers may have websites that look very professional. They may also advertise in phone books, signs on stores, radio stations or newspapers. They might even be recommended by someone you know. The best way to avoid scammers is to find out if the person offering immigration advice is a licensed attorney. You can contact the Idaho State Bar at (208) 334-4500 or www.isb.idaho.gov to determine whether someone is a licensed attorney.
Tips to Remember:
- DO verify that the person giving you legal advice or representing you before the USCIS is an attorney or BIA accredited representative.
- DO get a receipt when you pay someone to help you complete your immigration forms.
- DO keep all letters from USCIS in a safe place. Always get copies of all documents that were prepared or submitted for you and keep a copy of your USCIS receipt notice. This receipt is proof that your application or petition has been received by USCIS.
- DO check USCIS form instructions for filing fees and other requirements.
- DO report unlawful activity or immigration scams to your state bar association or attorney general’s office.
- DO NOT pay for blank USCIS forms. All USCIS forms are free.
- DO NOT sign blank forms. Be sure all forms are complete before you sign them.
- DO NOT sign forms that contain false information. Be sure that all information is true and accurate before you sign the form.
- DO NOT let anyone keep your original documents.
- DO NOT sign anything you do not understand. Before you sign any immigration forms, read them carefully and be sure you understand them.
This article is for general informational purposes only, it is neither legal advice, nor is it intended to be legal advice; and it is not an exclusive statement of statutory or regulatory provisions or case law. Any questions should be submitted to an attorney for his/her analysis.