Santa Clara County has a very diverse population comprised of immigrant families from various different nationalities. At some point, the necessity to hire an immigration service provider for family members, friends or themselves has or will arise. It is very important to know the differences in immigration service providers and what they are legally allowed to do for an immigration case. Often times, those who cannot provide immigration assistance will attempt to gain the trust of the individual, unlawfully perform immigration services, causing the loss of money or even worse, resulting in deportation.
The following sections provide a short description of the most commonly encountered immigration service providers.
A Notary Public does not have the same qualifications in the United States as they would in other countries. For example, in Latin America a Notary Public is referred to as a “Notario Publico” or “Notario” and would possess greater legal authority similar to an attorney. In the United States, a Notary Public is NOT an attorney but a responsible person appointed by the state government to witness the signing of important documents and administer oaths.
California has prohibited the use of the translated term “Notary.” Notary Publics are not allowed to refer to themselves as “Notario,” or “Notario Publico.” Notary’s cannot give legal advice, provide legal services or any legal representation.
Immigration Consultants are not attorneys, but are allowed to provide very limited immigration services after complying with certain requirements. The Immigration Consultant Act (Business & Professions Code 22440-22449) outlines the rules and regulations immigration consultants must follow.
An Immigration Consultant can perform the following services:
· complete forms you have previously chosen to complete
· assist in obtaining supporting documents
· make free attorney referrals
An Immigration Consultant cannot:
· give legal advice
· provide court representation
· keep original documents
· ask you to lie
· claim they have any special influence and make any guarantees or promises without a factual basis
Additionally, an immigration consultant must provide a written contract in both English and in the individual’s native language, which must outline the services provided and the cost of those services. Always ask for a signed receipt for any paid services.
Immigration consultants are not required to have any formal training nor are they required to pass a standardized test in order to complete immigration forms. Immigration consultants must pass a background check and are required by the State of California to have a $100,000 surety bond. You can verify if the immigration consultant is bonded by going to the California Secretary of State website.
The link will provide the immigration consultants photo along with the bond information.
Remember: An Immigration Consultant is not an attorney and is required by law to post a notice with that statement.
NON-PROFIT IMMIGRATION SERVICE PROVIDERS:
Some non-profit agencies provide accredited representatives recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to assist with immigration services at a nominal cost. These representatives must be of good moral characters who work for a specific nonprofit religious, charitable, social service, or similar organization which has been recognized by the BIA. Depending on the level of accreditation, the accredited representatives can assist with immigration forms as well as representation before Department of Homeland Security, Board of Immigration Appeals or Immigration Court. These representatives must work with the agency they receive their accreditation from. The immigration legal services referral list contains information for non-profit Attorney and BIA accredited agencies that may be available to assist with immigration services.
Attorneys must attend law school and pass an exam to become a member of a state bar association. Attorneys can provide legal advice, legal services and/or legal representation. Click on the following link to verify if a particular attorney is currently licensed and in good standing through the State of California. This website is only good for attorney’s licensed through the state of California.
· Sheriff’s Office Informational Pamphlet
If you believe you are a victim of immigration service fraud, call the Sheriff’s Office at
408-808-4599 or email us at: Tips@Sheriff.sccgov.org