The word “notario”, in terms of immigration law, is a slang term that is used to describe people who are not actual lawyers but who hold themselves out to unsuspecting immigrants as lawyers and/or being able to provide the services of a lawyer. These notarios will charge immigrants copious amounts of cash in exchange for no work at all or illegally provided substandard work. The danger of working with a notario is that they can leave immigrants in the very dangerous position of being eligible for removal from the United States – in other words, they can leave immigrants in a deportable state and many may not even realize it until they are detained by migration officials.
Some notarios have been so bold as to print counterfeit green cards to unsuspecting immigrants in exchange for cash, which makes it even more likely that the immigrant won’t question the notario’s credentials.
The Rules in the United States
The laws of the United States and of each individual state make it impossible for anyone who is not a licensed attorney to practice law. Contrary to popular belief, a law degree alone is not enough to practice law, the person wishing to practice law must first receive a law degree from an approved school before seeking to be licensed by a U.S. jurisdiction. Anyone offering legal advice, or offering to help an immigrant with the immigration process, without having a license to practice law, is most likely in violation of the law and should be reported to authorities.
If A Person Has Hired a Notario in the Past
If a person’s immigration application was completed with the help of a notario in the past, or if the person has suspicions that someone they may have visited for migration assistance or advice was in fact a notario, then they should contact an experienced migration attorney as soon as possible. A legitimate immigration attorney will be able to tell the person whether or not the services provided by the suspected notario were valid and whether or not the person should have any concerns over their status.
Getting an Attorney to Help
In addition to reviewing a case to determine whether or not a person has been made the victim of a notario, an experienced immigration attorney can help individuals who need immigration advice by answering their legal questions relating to the immigration system, helping them with the paperwork that will need to be submitted in order to proceed with the immigration process, and representing their interests at any immigration hearings. Partnering with a legitimate attorney, with verifiable credentials, is the best way to ensure that an immigration application is submitted properly and that the person whom the application is for has the highest possible chance of success.
Even if the person was duped into paying for illegitimate legal advice and services, a legitimate attorney may still be able to help the person gain an immigration status that would allow them to legally remain in the United States.