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Frequently Asked Questions About Immigration Consultants

The terms “Notary,” “Immigration Consultant” and “Immigration Attorney” are often confused by immigrants seeking help or guidance. Federal and state laws limit the services and advertising a Notary can provide to immigrants, and if not clearly understood, a Notary can make an on-the-job mistake that can lead to legal consequences. The Immigration Section provides answers to some commonly asked questions:

How Is An Immigration Consultant Different From An Immigration Attorney?
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), unlike an immigration attorney or an accredited representative of a federally-recognized organization, an immigration consultant may not offer legal advice or represent a client in USCIS proceedings. This USCIS page provides more information on the difference between attorneys, accredited consultants, and Notaries pertaining to immigration matters.

What states allow Notaries to serve as an immigration consultant?
State laws are strict in this regard, and you will need to check if your state permits Notaries to also work as immigration consultants. California requires an immigration consultant to pass a background check, post a $50,000 bond, and complete and submit a disclosure form whether the consultant has been convicted of any crimes. Georgia, Nebraska, Oregon and Utah prohibit Notaries from offering counsel on immigration matters. Colorado bans Notaries from advertising immigration services, and North Carolina prohibits nonattorneys or other persons without special accreditation from advertising as “immigration consultants.” A list of state laws regarding to immigration consultants and restrictions is available from the American Bar Association.

Why can’t I advertise in Spanish as a “Notario Publico?”
In many Spanish-speaking countries, a Notario Publico is a legal professional with significantly different duties and qualifications than U.S. Notaries. Criminals often advertise as Notarios to trick immigrants into paying large sums of money for fraudulent “legal services.” In reality, these Notarios steal the money without providing any real help. Often, trusting immigrants are deported because the Notario failed to properly process their documents. Most states now ban Spanish-language advertisements using the title Notario orNotario Publico. The American Bar Association’s has produced a list of state statutes for reference.

6 Comments

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Amada L Sanchez

13 May 2015

i want information

National Notary Association

13 May 2015

Hello. So that we can better assist you, could you provide us with more details about your question, please?

KArla Nunez

05 Apr 2018

I understand that you must be qualified and bonded to be an immigration consultant if you are a notary public in California. But I’m confused, you are still not able to advertised as both? Even though you’re bonded?

National Notary Association

06 Apr 2018

That is correct. No person who advertises as an immigration expert or counselor is permitted to also advertise as a Notary Public (GC 8223[a]). For more information on CA rules for immigration service providers, please see here: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2016/10/notary-guide-california-rules-immigration-consultants

Jesus Rico

25 Jul 2018

Hello if you are both a notary public and an immigration consultant could you charge a $15 fee for the notarized portion of form I-864 and fill out the rest of the form for a separate fee?

National Notary Association

26 Jul 2018

Hello. Based on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and provided them with a more detailed description of the situation. The NNA Hotline: 1-888-876-0827 Mon – Fri: 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT) If you’re not an NNA Member or Hotline Subscriber, they will provide you with a one-time courtesy call.

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