Newsletter June 2011 – Notary Publics, Notarios Publicos, are NOT Immigration Counselors

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Notary Publics, Notarios Publicos, are NOT Immigration Counselors

Recently, the U.S. government unveiled a multiagency, nationwide initiative to go after immigration service scams that includes the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission.

Under federal law, only attorneys or agencies accredited by the government, can process immigration applications. But many immigrants go to notarios thinking they are immigration attorneys because in Mexico and other Latin American countries, notarios are lawyers. But in the United States, anyone can be a notary public, and a notary can only, and let me repeat this, can ONLY be witness to a signature.

In the last year, the Justice Department, working with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI and others, has prosecuted dozens of cases against notarios that have resulted in convictions with sentences of up to eight years in prison and forfeiture and restitution of more than $1.8 million.

“We are dedicated to protecting vulnerable immigrants from those who seek to exploit them,” said U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services director Alejandro Mayorkas.

If you have difficult questions concerning your immigration application, don’t be scammed and contact an immigration attorney NOT a notary public.

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