U.S. immigration is a complicated procedure that takes up a lot of time, energy, money and other resources. In an effort to expedite the immigration process, many immigrants pay others to represent them or work on their behalf to help them receive the benefits that they are entitled to. However, this opens the door to the possibility of immigration fraud. What can you do to avoid becoming a victim of immigration fraud?
Can Notarios, Notary Publics, and Immigration Consultants Represent You Before USCIS?
In short, no. According to USCIS, “notaries, notary publics and immigration consultants cannot represent you before USCIS. While in many other countries the word “Notario” means that the individual is an attorney, this is not true in the United States and they may not provide the same services that an attorney or accredited representative does.” As such, a notario cannot provide you with legal advice on immigration benefits you are entitled to; nor can they coach you on what to say during an immigration interview or hold themselves as qualified in immigration and naturalisation procedures in the United States.
It is natural to seek answers to your immigration questions, and you will have many along the way. However, paying a “notario”, notary public or immigration consultant to represent you can lead to immigration fraud, rather than the true legal advice you are seeking.
How Do I Protect Myself from Immigration Fraud?
There are several ways to protect yourself from becoming a victim of immigration fraud. USCIS offers the following helpful suggestions. First, do not sign any blank applications, petitions or other documents that you do not understand. Verify that all the information is correct on documents before you sign and do not allow anyone to keep your original documents. If you do pay a representative for immigration services (such as a Notary Public) always obtain a receipt from them and make copies of all documents that are prepared or submitted for you.
Report Suspicious Activity
One of the most important ways to protect yourself from immigration fraud is to verify an attorney or accredited representative’s eligibility to represent you. If you suspect that their credentials are fraudulent, report all instances of illegal activity to USCIS, State Bar Associations and/or the State Offices of Attorneys General.
According to USCIS, you are entitled to legal representation from an attorney or accredited representative from a recognised organisation, such as when filing a form, application or petition to USCIS. Attorneys and accredited representatives are allowed to communicate on your behalf with USCIS, and can even speak to a customer service representative, with your permission.
Immigration fraud can so easily ensnare individuals who do not know how to navigate U.S. immigration and who settle for the wrong individuals to represent them. Never sign anything that you do not understand and report any suspicious activity to USCIS and other authorities. Legal representatives include attorneys and accredited representatives, who are legally entitled to communicate with USCIS on your behalf.
Don’t Be a Victim of Immigration Fraud
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services