One example of immigration services fraud targets Spanish-speaking immigrants in schemes where fraudsters use the false cognate, “notario”, a Spanish term for an attorney in many countries, to mislead consumers into thinking that they are authorized to provide legal advice and services in the United States.
A notario, notario público, or immigration consultant in the U.S. is not an attorney nor an accredited representative of the Board of Immigration Appeals in the U.S., and consequently, is not licensed to provide paid immigration legal advice or legal services. Unscrupulous notarios or consultants routinely prey on immigrants who, because of linguistic, cultural, and financial obstacles, believe a notario or consultant can assist them with their legal issues. The fraudulent work of notarios or immigration consultants can have life-devastating consequences on its victims, including financial ruin, damage to a legal case, deportation, and permanent family separation.
Other common scams affecting immigrants of all nationalities and languages include impersonators of federal government or immigration employees, as well as individuals who pretend to be licensed attorneys or so called “immigration consultants.” Fraudsters target immigrants to exploit their desire to adjust their status.
- Always make sure that the person you hired is licensed to practice law in the U.S.
- Never hire a “notary public” to help you with your immigration case. A notary public is not an attorney in the United States.
- Always beware of anyone who asks you to pay before there is a way to apply.
- Never pay someone who will not give you a receipt.
- Always make sure you understand what must be done in your case, and why, before you proceed.
- Never sign anything that you don’t understand, or that’s left blank.
- Always get a copy of all applications in your case.
- Never leave behind your original documents.
- Always look for help if your representative threatens to harm you or your immigration case.
- Never trust a representative who says they have a special connection in the government, because the government does NOT accept bribes or do favors.
- Always get a second opinion if you’re not sure about the advice you’ve been given.
- Never trust anyone who says that they can “guarantee” to win your case.
If you encounter fraudulent legal representatives or government imposters, report them to Ayuda at (202) 552-3615. This information was brought to you by Ayuda’s Project END.