SC House Bill 4400 | NNA
Law

SC House Bill 4400

Notary Law Update: SC House Bill 4400

State: South Carolina

Summary:

While House Bill 4400 addresses many other facets of immigration, it has particular provisions addressing the business of immigration assistance service providers by defining the duties of non-attorneys who provide certain non-legal and ministerial services; regulating the ethical conduct of immigration specialists; and authorizing the Director of the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to investigate and enforce the provisions of the chapter. In many respects  House Bill 4400 is similar to a Georgia law enacted earlier this year.

Signed:  June 17, 2008

Effective:  June 17, 2008

Chapter: Act No. 280

Affects:

Adds Chapter 83 to Title 40 of the South Carolina Code

Changes:
  1. Defines “immigration assistance service” as “information or action provided or offered to customers or prospective customers related to immigration matters, excluding legal advice, recommending a specific course of legal action or providing other assistance that requires legal analysis, legal judgment, or interpretation of the law.
  2. 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 South Carolina Notary Public and is lawfully present in the United States.
  3. Requires immigration assistance service providers except attorneys and others who are specifically exempted to post signs that are at least 12 inches by 17 inches and prominently placed so as to be visible to customers, containing a prescribed notice stating that they are not an attorney qualified to offer legal advice or accept fees for legal advice.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Prohibits an immigration assistance provider to “represent or advertise, in connection with providing assistance in immigration matters, other titles or credentials, including, but not limited to, ‘notary public’ or ‘immigration consultant’, that could cause a customer to believe that the person possesses special professional skills or is authorized to provide advice on an immigration matter, provided 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.”
  7. Prohibits translation of the term Notary Public into another language.
  8. Classifies as a felony knowingly and willfully making a false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation in any document prepared or executed as part of the provision of immigration assistance services, or aiding or abetting a person to do the same, punishable by a fine imposed at the discretion of the court and imprisonment for up to ten years, or both. A person convicted of this crime must surrender any benefit received or make restitution to the state agency defrauded and face charges filed by any person defrauded as a result of a conviction.
  9. Imposes up to a $1,000 civil penalty and revocation of a business license as an immigration assistance services provider for a violation of the chapter, and holds a violator jointly and severally liable for any loss suffered by any person or any agency or political subdivision of the State.
  10. Enumerates several prohibited acts for persons licensed as immigration assistance service providers who are not specifically exempted.
  11. Authorizes the Director of the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to publish rules to implement the chapter.
Analysis:

South Carolina enacts a comprehensive immigration law patterned after a Georgia law that was enacted this year. Only the provisions most germane to Notaries are reported in this Alert, including: (1) a description of the duty of an immigration assistance service provider to notarize government forms related to immigration matters if the provider also is a Notary; (2) a prohibition against translating the term “Notary” or “Notary Public” into another language if the translated term implies the provider is an attorney; and (3) a requirement to post a prescribed notice that the provider offering non-legal immigration services is not an attorney in an non-English advertisement. Unlike the Georgia law, House Bill 4400 does not require immigration assistance service providers to be licensed or post a bond, although a business license must be obtained.

Read the bill text.

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