States Impose Stricter Regulations To Combat Predatory Immigration Practices
In an effort to protect the public from immigration scams, more and more states are enacting laws regulating those who offer assistance to immigrants. States such as Michigan, Utah and California are warning Notaries that if you are involved with immigration-related cases and have not properly registered as a consultant with the state, offering advice or assistance is considered unauthorized practice of law and can result in harsh penalties, including fees, suspended commission, or even criminal charges.
As of July 1, a new Utah law requires that those who provide immigration-related services be registered with the Utah Commerce Department as immigration consultants, submit to a background check, and pay an application fee. Similar laws in Michigan and California require those providing non-legal services to immigrants to register with their respective state. Immigration bonds are required in all of these states.
Immigration bonds protect against errors committed during the immigration process, not those involving notarization. Therefore, if you are currently a Notary and apply to become an immigration consultant, you will be required to post the mandatory immigration bond.
While Immigration Consultants (which may go by different titles in different states) are permitted to assist in select administrative services, they may not offer legal advice to immigration clients, which could be considered unauthorized practice of law.
Notaries or other individuals who are interested in providing administrative services to immigration clients should consult their state governing agencies to make sure they are properly registered and adhering to state requirements.