Immigrants looking to travel to the U.S. legally often rely on what they believe are reputable legal services here in the United States. But not every organization representing itself as being able to offer legal advice should be trusted. Both individuals and companies should only trust a licensed immigration attorney.
A recently resolved case in San Francisco illustrates the dangers of utilizing the services of self-proclaimed immigration specialists without checking to see if they are licensed attorneys. The case actually dates back to 2017, when the city ordered a local notary to stop providing legal services. Non-licensed individuals sometimes pass themselves off as specialists in the field and offer what they describe as a savings from not using a licensed attorney. These individuals often add costs as they go, such that the savings they claim to be providing disappears quickly. Worse than that, they can jeopardize a person’s immigration status by not providing the right level of legal knowhow.
Immigration Attorneys Are Specialists
Here in the U.S., immigration attorneys are specialists. We are licensed attorneys that specialize in immigration law. This is what makes us the most qualified to offer services relating to business immigration, H-1B visas, etc.
In the San Francisco case, you have an individual who was licensed as a notary but not an attorney. He is also an immigrant himself. In the customer’s native country, an immigration attorney is actually just a notary with additional knowledge pertaining to immigration law.
Immigrants looking to come to the United States may not be able to draw such distinctions. They may not know the difference between immigration attorneys in their home country as compared to those here. So they are more susceptible to bad actors posing as immigration attorneys without actually being licensed practitioners.
Ordered to Stop Practicing
Getting back to the case in San Francisco, the defendant was ordered to stop providing legal services back in 2017. He chose to violate that order. He was again cited, and his case began winding its way through the courts. The most recent decision came from a San Francisco Superior Court who deemed the defendant’s services “fraudulent immigration services.”
That is a strong language, as it should be. An immigration consultant is not an attorney unless they also possess a law degree and a state license. A notary with no license to practice law is certainly not an immigration attorney.
Why It Matters
If you are an immigrant hoping to come to the States to work, you may not be clear as to why any of this matters. It matters for many reasons, the most important being the fact that U.S. immigration law is complicated.
For example, we mentioned H-1B visas earlier. The H-1B is one of the more common visas for workers entering the U.S. But it is not the only one. There are many, many others a worker can apply for depending on industry, skill sets, and the type of work being performed.
The U.S. also issues green cards to a certain number of immigrant workers every year. Obtaining a green card is an entirely different process with its own set of rules. Applying for a green card when you really need an H-B1 visa would lead you down a long road to nowhere.
Attorneys Know the Law
What this really boils down to is the fact that licensed immigration attorneys know the law. They know exactly what it takes to legally enter the U.S., work here, and stay for as long as possible. And throughout the application process, a licensed immigration attorney provides accurate and invaluable legal advice.
We recommend only working with licensed immigration attorneys. Skip the consultants and notaries. They have neither the knowledge nor the experience to deal with the complexities of immigration law. At best, they might be able to offer some minimal help in obtaining visa application documents. But any serious attempt to legally immigrate requires a lot more.
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