GA House Bill 1055 (2008) | NNA
Law

GA House Bill 1055 (2008)

Notary Law Update: GA House Bill 1055 (2008)

State: Georgia

Summary:

House Bill 1055 provides for the licensure of “immigration specialists” — non-attorneys who provide non-legal and ministerial immigration-related services, defines the duties and ethical conduct of immigration specialists, and authorizes the Secretary of State to investigate and enforce the provisions of the chapter. Certain activities of Notaries are directly affected by the new law.

Signed:  May 14, 2008

Effective:  July 01, 2008

Chapter: 685

Affects:

Thoroughly revises Chapter 20A of Title 43 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated to create the Registration of Immigration Assistance Act

Changes:
  1. Defines “immigration assistance” as “any service provided to clients for compensation related to immigration matters, but shall not include legal advice, recommending a specific course of legal action, or providing any other assistance that requires legal analysis, legal judgment, or the interpretation of the law.”
  2. Provides the requirements for licensure as an immigration assistance provider, including a $5,000 performance bond issued by a surety licensed in the state of Georgia.
  3. Prescribes the duties of an immigration assistance service provider, including the notarization of forms submitted in an immigration matter, provided the provider also is a Georgia Notary Public.
  4. Requires immigration assistance service providers except attorneys and others who are specifically exempted to post signs with a prescribed notice stating that they are not an attorney qualified to offer legal advice or accept fees for legal advice.
  5. Requires immigration assistance service providers except attorneys and others who are specifically exempted who advertise in a foreign language to post a prescribed notice in English and the foreign language stating that they are not an attorney qualified to offer legal advice or accept fees for legal advice.
  6. Prohibits immigration assistance service providers except attorneys and others who are specifically exempted to translate the term notary public, notary, licensed, attorney, lawyer, or any other term that implies the person is an attorney in a language other than English.
  7. Prohibits an immigration assistance provider to “represent or advertise, in conjunction with immigration assistance, other titles or credentials, including but not limited to ‘notary public’ or ‘immigration consultant,’ that could cause a client to believe that the person possesses special professional skills or is authorized to provide advice on an immigration matter; provided, however, that a certified notary public may use the term ‘notary public’ if the use is accompanied by the statement that the person is not an attorney and the term ‘notary public’ is not translated to another language.”
  8. Authorizes the Secretary of State to investigate and enforce the chapter, and impose a $1,000 -- $50,000 civil penalty in addition to any other appropriate criminal or civil penalty per violation.
  9. Classifies a first-time violation of the chapter as a misdemeanor for a first offense and a second or subsequent offense committed within five years of a previous conviction for the same offense a high and aggravated misdemeanor.
  10. Enumerates grounds for the denial, suspension or revocation of a license to perform immigration assistance services.
  11. Authorizes the Secretary of State to publish rules to implement the chapter.
Analysis:

Georgia becomes the most recent state to recognize and regulate so-called immigration specialists or consultants who provide assistive non-legal immigration services. California has had an extensive law like this for several years. Provisions in this new immigration law intersect with the duties of Notaries in the following ways: First, a duty of an “immigration assistance provider” is to notarize government forms related to immigration matters if the provider also is a Notary; second, non-attorney immigration assistance providers may not translate the term “Notary” or “Notary Public” into another language if the translated term implies the provider is an attorney; finally, there is the typical requirement to post a prescribed notice that the provider offering non-legal immigration services is not an attorney in an non-English advertisement.

Read the bill text.

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