Frauds and Scams: Who is qualified to give you legal advice?

Most Latin American countries like Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua,  Peru, and  European countries like Holland, Italy, and France abide by the Latin Notary system.

In this Latin system, notaries public first need to be attorneys, and even though not all attorneys are notaries public, all notaries public first have to be attorneys. Under this system, notaries public are given a series of powers, and specific and unique functions attorneys do not have.

This system, however, is not the governing system in the United States. Notaries are not attorneys, nor do they have the same functions and responsibilities as notaries public under the Latin Notary system. In the United States, notaries public are people appointed by each state to witness the signing of specific documents and to administer oaths.

We make this distinction because pretty often, people get confused when they come to the United States. In the hopes of finding a cheaper solution, they seek advice from notaries, immigration advisers or consultants, foreign attorneys, real estate agents, or tax consultants, uninformed to the fact that in the United States, these people are not attorneys, not familiar with the laws, and ultimately won’t be able to represent them before immigration authorities such as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), or the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

A notary willing to assist you with your immigration process will most likely take advantage of your fear and urgency, take your money, and submit no paperwork at all.

Being in a country like the United States can feel intimidating. Not being familiar with the laws or how the system works may lead to very costly mistakes for you and your family. Set your priorities straight and start looking for professional legal advice because you can get scammed in the United States, and this is something that could permanently ruin your case and get you deported.

If you’ve been wondering, “How do I fill out a form and submit it to USCIS?” or “How do I choose the right form for my immigration process?” and still feel clueless, you must know that it’s not that simple. These questions are not the kind of questions you can easily find the answer on Google or that you can get from even the most well-meaning friend or neighbor.

Nobody except someone thoroughly acquainted with your case can give you the right answers. Several people have automatically faced an order of deportation just for presenting the incorrect form, or even worse, a form with false information, just because an immigration attorney did not advise them. Just as you would in your country, you want to find an attorney specializing in US Immigration Law.

Here we clarify How to avoid immigration fraud.

With over 100 free online forms for your immigration process, guessing the right pick can be tricky. This is why you need to find an immigration attorney in Georgia who specializes in this field. After studying your case, an attorney can provide advice and explain which form is right for your case. If you are not eligible at the moment, your attorney can tell you which steps you should follow to get there.

Here’s what you need to know to avoid being a fraud victim in the United States:

  1. Never hand out original documents (passport, ID, statements, certifications), and don’t keep them in places where people with the wrong intentions might find them.
  2. Do not sign blank forms: always be aware of the information recorded in the forms and make sure it is not false. Never sign any document without knowing what your adviser will write on them.
  3. Do not pay for the official forms: forms are free and can be downloaded from the USCIS.gov official website. Therefore, don’t pay for them.
  4. Be wary when someone claims “quick” or “guaranteed” results or when someone offers to apply for a process where you know you don’t qualify.
  5. Do not trust your immigration case to someone who is not an attorney, collects your fines, or asks you for money without a contract or payment receipt.
  6. Do not trust your immigration case to anyone offering the whole package: paying your fines to the IRS, doing your taxes, getting your driver’s license, and taking up your immigration case. Likewise, don’t trust “Jacks of all trades” or self-employed legal or paralegal workers.v

Take into consideration this useful advice to avoid being scammed. Immigration fraud is common in the United States. There are plenty of examples of exploited immigrants who fall prey to scammers; they take advantage of their vulnerable victims and never get reported because victims are afraid to file a report due to not having legal status in the United States or fear of retribution. This is why these scammers keep doing so much harm and “working” as advisers to deceive so many immigrants like you.

In our experience as immigration attorneys in Atlanta and Gainesville, the most common types of frauds are:

  • TPS re-registration or renewals and asylum cases.
  • Emails claiming that you can win or have won the visa lottery.
  • False and fraudulent websites.
  • People asking you for money to speed up your case or to pay intermediaries.
  • Paralegals that have filled out paperwork incorrectly
 

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) also offers advice on avoiding immigration fraud and tools to file a report.

In the state of Georgia, you can check if an Immigration Attorney is listed in the State Bar of Georgia, which is the governing body that authorizes the exercise of law in each state. Check out this website to learn if an attorney is not only licensed but also not disbarred. Click on this link and find out if your attorney is licensed to provide services in the state of Georgia www.gabar.org/

We also recommend that you make sure their office is open to the public. Sift through their social media, ratings, and client reviews in their Google My Business profile. Find out whether they are involved with the community, ask for references, and ask around before contacting them so that you don’t end up being a fraud victim.

If you are still hesitant about using a notary public for your immigration case in Georgia, check out the following news on people who were fraud victims:

In its “Preying in the Shadows” feature story, the Inquirer collects a series of testimonies that recount the experiences of several people who were scammed by an organization led by someone who was not an attorney.

The LA TIMES tells the story of Emma García, who saved for years to become a permanent resident.

Remember to file a report if you were a fraud victim, and don’t fear retribution. Then, find an attorney specialized in immigration law in Georgia to move forward with your immigration process to confirm that you have a case or that your case was submitted. Here at Virguez Law, we will fight for you while keeping your family united!

Photo by Tara Winstead from Pexels

Foto por Scott Graham en Unsplash

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