In some Latin American countries, a notario or notario publico is a licensed lawyer. In the United States, “notaries,” “notaries public,” or “immigration consultants” are not lawyers. These people have been giving bad and incorrect advice to non-citizens who are trying to obtain immigration benefits. They charge thousands of dollars to file immigration applications. Often they fail to file the applications, file false or fraudulent documents, or file applications for programs that do not exist or for which a person does not qualify. This can result in deportation and the loss of life savings. This article will explain who is authorized to help you with your immigration matter, what to do if you cannot afford an attorney, and how to avoid fraud.
Who is authorized to help me with my immigration matter?
Only licensed U.S. attorneys and accredited representatives are authorized and qualified to assist you with your immigration matter. In many Latin American countries, the Spanish word notario publico refers to a person with legal expertise, but this is not the case in this country. In the U.S., a notary public may not give legal advice, prepare legal papers, or provide other legal services unless he or she is also a U.S.-licensed attorney or an accredited representative. You can find out if someone is licensed or accredited by contacting the bar association of the state where the person is licensed. You can also find a list of accredited representatives on the U.S. Department of Justice website.
What can I do if I can’t afford a private attorney?
If you cannot afford a private attorney, contact LSNJLAWSM, Legal Services of New Jersey’s statewide, toll-free legal hotline, at 1-888-LSNJ-LAW (1-888-576-5529). If you are eligible, you will be able to speak with a licensed attorney or an accredited representative about your immigration matter.
What rights do I have?
It is important for you to know that you have certain rights when a lawyer or accredited representative is representing you in your immigration matter.
How can I avoid being defrauded?
The following are important tips to avoid being defrauded:
What can I do if I am the victim of fraud by a notary public?
If you have been the victim of fraud by a notary public in New Jersey, you can report the fraud to the Attorney General or the Division of Consumer Affairs by calling 1-800-242-5846, or by e-mailing the Division of Consumer Affairs at: [email protected].
This information last reviewed: Jul 17, 2017