Educational Consumer Tips

Immigration Consultants

Author: Better Business Bureau

The California Attorney General's Office offers this helpful information for those consumers who wish to use immigration consulting services:

Only lawyers licensed to practice in state or federal courts can give legal advice and represent you in immigration court. Accredited representatives 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 the INS forms, getting copies of supporting documents, and if you ask them, 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.

Beware of the scam artists who can cause you to lose thousands of dollars and harm your immigration status. Decide what help you need and compare the prices and services of lawyers and immigration consultants.

The California Attorney General's Office suggests that consumers who wish to use consultants to find out about immigration, use the checklist below to help protect against fraud:

1. Make sure that the individual offering to provide
immigration services is a licensed attorney. Consider asking for their State Bar number and check with that agency to check for any disciplinary actions.

2. Immigration consultants must have a $ 50,000 bond and provide evidence of such. You may wish to ask for a copy and keep it for your records.

3. Check references and speak to others who have used his/ her services.

4. Make sure that all promises are made in writing and make sure you only sign the contract after you completely understand the terms of the contract, including the terms of the payments and any services promised.

5. Make sure that the contract is written in both English and Spanish.

6. You can cancel a contract with an imigration consultant within 72 hours and receive a complete refund. All cancellations should be in writing.

7. Get a receipt showing how much you paid and exactly what you paid for.

8. Keep a copy of the contract with detailed notes about any dealings with the company.