Immigration Forms Specialist FAQs

The following questions and answers about Immigration Forms Specialists (IFS) are not meant to be exhaustive. You should consult your state laws to understand the specific qualifications, requirements, permitted services and prohibited conduct related to offering non-legal immigration services in your state.

How much demand is there for Immigration Forms Specialists?

The U.S. immigrant population is steadily growing, and many immigrants are unable to afford the services of an immigration attorney.

  • Immigration has accounted for 29 percent of U.S. population growth since the year 2000, according to the Pew Research Center.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that more than 40 million people living in the United States were born in another country.
  • The number of people who apply for naturalization each year is in the hundreds of thousands. In 2013 alone, 772,623 immigrants filed to become U.S. citizens, according to the Office of Immigration Statistics.

Can anyone serve as an Immigration Forms Specialist?

According to the USCIS, anyone may provide limited, non-legal help with immigration forms and charge for those services. However, the states determine the qualifications required, including whether or not you need to be an attorney. Be sure to check your state’s rules to find out if there are any limitations.

While anyone with the know-how may provide limited help with immigration forms, keep in mind that training can help you do the work professionally.

Can a Notary also serve as an Immigration Forms Specialist?

Yes, as long as you meet your state’s requirements for both. State licensing and business rules may require you to post separate bonds, present specific signage or use certain supplies to differentiate notarial services from immigration services.

Be aware that, as a Notary, you may be found guilty of engaging in the unauthorized practice of law if you provide immigration-related services and are not registered or licensed with your state to do so. This can result in harsh penalties, including fees, suspended commission, or even criminal charges.

What services can Immigration Forms Specialists provide?

An IFS may provide non-legal immigration services. Generally, these are services that do not require an attorney, unless your state requires you to be an attorney to provide immigration consultation.

Examples of non-legal immigration services include:

  • Helping people complete immigration forms and applications
  • Translating a person’s answers to questions on the immigration forms.
  • Help a person collect supporting documents, such as birth certificates, or other vital records that may be needed to complete immigration forms.
  • Collecting support documents, such as birth certificates or other vital records, required for the application.
  • Submitting completed forms to immigration authorities on an applicant’s behalf.
  • Making referrals to attorneys to provide legal representation in an immigration matter.

Understanding that sometimes people may need services that only an attorney or an accredited representative can provide can help you avoid the unauthorized practice of law.

What’s off-limits for Immigration Forms Specialists?

  • Advising clients on how to get a work permit, visa, or other immigration status matters.
  • Advising or selecting particular forms for a client in an immigration matter or withholding documents from a client.
  • Advising clients on answers to put on an immigration form.
  • Advising clients on statutes and immigration benefits that may be available.
  • Advising clients on legal remedies that might be available to them during the immigration process.
  • Representing clients before a government agency or an immigration court unless the IFS is also an attorney or an accredited representative.
  • Making promises to secure benefits in an immigration matter if the IFS does not have a firm basis for making the promise.
  • Advertising in Spanish using the terms “notario” or “notario publico” that may lead clients 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.
  • 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 to be charged.
  • Provide written notices in their place of business that comply with state law. Any notices required by state law should be provided in English and the client’s language.
  • 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.


Grow your career as an Immigration Forms Specialist

Notaries, tax preparers and other professionals who regularly handle official documents are well-equipped to add immigration form preparation to their business.