Immigrants entering the United States are faced not only with the complexities of learning a new culture and language, but also with the intricate legalities of immigration within a foreign legal system, sparking an increasing trend of “notarios” or individuals exploiting these vulnerable immigrants. More and more, these unauthorized practitioners of law prey on unsuspecting immigrants who are trying to follow the rules and correctly apply for immigration status. Promises of green cards, visas and other status adjustments come with a high price tag and zero results, leaving many immigrants hiding in the shadows, un- certain of their status and financially destroyed.
As a result, it is important for immigrants to consider obtaining advice and guidance through an attorney experienced in immigration matters.
Finding a qualified immigration attorney, however, may require a little more legwork and fact checking than you think. These tips can help immigrants safeguard their future and find a quality attorney:
• Ask a qualified professional. Before you fill out forms or begin your immigration process, consult an experienced attorney. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is a good place to start. Visit www.aila.org for more information.
• Check Licensure. Verify your attorney’s licensure on the State Bar Association Web site. Also, simple tasks such as verifying that your professional has an office or looking for diplomas and licenses are good habits.
• Understand your case. Understand and be knowledgeable about what type of application is being filed on your behalf and the requirements that go along with that application.
• Get a second opinion. If your attorney or any other professional recommends you file any of the following applications, get a second opinion because these applications are most commonly associated with fraudulent practices: amnesty or late amnesty, political asylum, the length of time you have been in the United States, suspension or cancellation of deportation, employment if you have been in the United States illegally, children under the age of 21 born in the United States or paying the $1,000 fine.
• Speak out. If you believe you have been a victim of an immigration scam, contact your state’s Consumer Affairs office, law enforcement or an attorney. Additionally, the local AILA chapter may be able to assist you and give you more information.
author: Barbara K. Strickland
AILA Doc. No. 08031242