If you need help with your immigration status, be careful who you see. Only lawyers licensed to practice in state or federal courts can give legal advice. Lawyers or representatives accredited by the immigration court can represent you in immigration court. In California, notaries public, paralegals, accredited representatives and immigration consultants are not necessarily lawyers.
It is against the law for an immigration consultant to give legal advice. An immigration consultant can only give you non-legal help, like translating your answers to the questions on U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) forms, getting copies of supporting documents, and, if you ask them to, submitting the forms to the INS. Only an attorney can give you legal advice, such as advising you about what forms to file with the INS.
Visit Attorney General's Office of Immigrant Assistance to find publications in these languages:
Armenian | Chinese | Hmong | Korean | Spanish | Vietnamese.
Scam artists can cause you to lose thousands of dollars and harm your immigration status. If you need a lawyer, check with the State Bar of California or local bar associations. An immigration consultant may cost as much as an attorney in the end.
Some common scams:
- Making false promises and implying he or she has special influence with the INS. Nobody can guarantee you a work permit or any other immigration benefit.
- Posing as an immigration consultant or lawyer when he or she is not qualified to do so.
- Taking a consumer's money and not delivering any services.
- Persuading a consumer to lie on an application or to an INS agent.
- Keeping a consumer's original documents and charging money to get the documents back.
- Filing a frivolous application. For example, filing an application for political asylum on behalf of a consumer who does not qualify for asylum.
- Charging the consumer a total price for all services up front, then demanding more and more money to continue doing work for the consumer.
For Questions and to Report Complaints:
California Department of Justice
Office of Immigrant Assistance
State Bar of California
Local District Attorney
Check your local telephone directory under County Government,
or check the California District Attorneys Associations website.
To Verify An Immigration Consultant Has a $50,000 Bond:
California Secretary of State