Immigration Forms Specialist FAQ

What are “non legal immigration services” provided by Immigration Forms Specialists?
How much demand is there for Immigration Forms Specialists services?
What states allow Immigration Forms Specialists to serve immigrant communities?
What states require Immigration Forms Specialists to post a surety bond?
What states have special requirements for Immigration Forms Specialists?
What States ban or restrict Immigration Forms Specialists from offering non-legal immigration services?
What services may Immigration Forms Specialists legally provide?
What is considered prohibited conduct for Immigration Forms Specialists?
What business practices should Immigration Forms Specialists follow?

What are “non legal immigration services” provided by Immigration Forms Specialists?

An Immigration Forms Specialist is trained to provide “non legal immigration services” — services that do not require the qualifications and involvement of an attorney. As such, an Immigration Forms Specialist does not study the facts of an immigration case and applicable laws, provide advice and counsel, or represent individuals before immigration authorities. An Immigration Forms Specialist may assist immigrants in completing blank spaces on immigration forms or translate their answers to questions on such forms.

How much demand is there for Immigration Forms Specialists services?

The U.S. immigrant population is steadily growing. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that more than 40 million people currently living in the United States were born in a foreign country. Immigration has accounted for 29 percent of U.S. population growth since the year 2000, according to the Pew Research Center. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants apply for naturalization status in the United States each year — for example, 772,623 petitions were filed in 2013 alone, according to the Office of Immigration Statistics. Most of the immigrant population is unable to afford the services of an immigration attorney and need low-cost, non legal immigration services.

What states allow Immigration Forms Specialists to serve immigrant communities?

States that permit Immigration Forms Specialists to provide immigration assistance include:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Utah
  • Washington

What states require Immigration Forms Specialists to post a surety bond?

  • California
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • Utah

What states have special requirements for Immigration Forms Specialists?

  • Arizona – Requires immigration consultants to be certified as legal document preparers.
  • California – Requires individuals to register as immigration consultants.
  • Utah – Requires individuals to register as immigration consultants.
  • Georgia – Requires a license to be an “immigration assistance provider.”
  • Nevada – Requires individuals to be licensed as a “document preparation service.”

What states ban or restrict Immigration Forms Specialists from offering non-legal immigration services?

  • Oregon – Prohibits anyone who is not an attorney and member of the Oregon State Bar from acting as an immigration consultant.
  • Colorado – Prohibits individuals who are not attorneys from representing themselves as immigration consultants.
  • Tennessee – Prohibits Notaries from representing themselves as immigration consultants unless the Notary is accredited by the federal Board of Immigration Appeals. 
  • North Carolina – Prohibits Notaries from representing themselves as immigration consultants unless the Notary is accredited by the federal Board of Immigration Appeals. 

What services may Immigration Forms Specialists legally provide?

  • Complete forms related to immigration matters on behalf of a person without rendering legal advice.
  • Translate a person’s answers to questions posed on immigration forms.
  • Assist a person in securing supporting documents such as birth certificates or other vital records which may be needed to complete immigration forms.
  • Submit completed immigration forms on an individual’s behalf to immigration authorities.
  • Make referrals to attorneys who could provide legal representation for a person in an immigration matter.

What is considered prohibited conduct for Immigration Forms Specialists?

  • Advising clients on getting a work permit, obtaining a visa or other immigration status matters.
  • Advising or selecting particular forms for a client in an immigration matter.
  • Advising clients on answers to put on an immigration form.
  • Advising on immigration benefits and statutes available to an individual.
  • Advising clients on legal remedies in an immigration which might be available to an individual.
  • Representing clients before a government agency or an immigration court unless you are an attorney or an accredited representative authorized to represent individuals under federal law.
  • Making promises to secure benefits in an immigration matter if you do not have a firm basis for making the promise.
  • Advertising using the Spanish terms “notario” or “notario publico” that lead immigrants to believe you are authorized to practice law.
  • In some states, advertising Notary services if you hold a Notary commission.
  • In some states, as a Notary claiming to have rights, powers, qualifications, or privileges that the office of Notary Public does not provide, including the power to counsel on immigration matters.
  • In some states, using terms like “immigration consultant” or "immigration specialist” or other description in advertising to convey that you have expertise in immigration matters, or if you hold a Notary commission.
  • Withholding documents from a client.
  • In some states, charging more than the fees authorized by law.
  • Making false or misleading statements to a client.
  • Making any statement that you can or will obtain special favors.

What business practices should Immigration Forms Specialists follow?

  • Provide clients with a written contract that clearly states the services to be rendered, the documents to be prepared and the fees for the services, and that include any notices required by state law, in English and the language of the client.
  • Provide written notices in their place of business that comply with state law.
  • Properly handle funds and payments from a client’s account.
  • Promptly return all original documents that a client has provided to support the client’s application.
  • Retain a client’s full file for a length of time required by state law.

NOTE: These answers provide general information on non legal immigration services and are not meant to be exhaustive. Readers should consult their state laws to understand the specific qualifications, requirements, permitted services and prohibited conduct related to offering non legal immigration services in their state.

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