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Q&A: Emerging Immigration Trends And How Notaries Help Ensure Compliance

With the federal crackdown on Notario fraudand the passing of many new state immigration laws, Notaries in the immigration sector are navigating an ever-changing landscape when it comes to protecting consumers from scams and helping businesses ensure compliance. TheImmigration Section spoke with Alabama Immigration Attorney Carol Armstrong, whose law firm represents both businesses and individual foreign nationals in the immigration process, about emerging trends, ways in which Notaries can help combat immigration assistance scams, and the challenges companies face in complying with stringent immigration laws.

In light of the federal crackdown on immigration assistance scams, how can legitimate Notaries play a role in protecting the public?
If a Notary hears of a person who is not an immigration attorney who claims to be able to file immigration papers, please report it to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. These so-called Notarios are perceived by their victims as being helpful, but what they often and usually do is jeopardize any real chance for lawful status for the person. They take their victims’ money and do nothing but hurt them.

Have you seen certain trends emerge with the passing of Alabama’s new immigration laws? 
I handle all types of immigration cases, including family-based and employment-based permanent residency, naturalization, temporary worker visas such as H-1Bs, and some removal (deportation) work. I am handling a lot more “crime victim” visa petitions (“U” visas) for folks who may be unlawfully present but are the victims of certain violent crimes, including domestic violence, rape and sexual assault, kidnapping, torture, human trafficking, felony assaults, homicides, blackmail and extortion. Certain family members of the victims can also qualify for these visas. The victims have to report the crime and cooperate with law enforcement in connection with the investigation and trial, but it is a good option if the person fits that set of facts, as the person and his immediate family members can get lawful status, work authorization, and are eligible to apply for permanent resident (“green card”) status after 3 years in “U” status.

What are the most common compliance problems you see companies having with regards to immigration laws?
Federal and state employment eligibility verification requirements continue to become more and more burdensome. Many companies struggle to comply with the paperwork and documentation requirements.

Why is proper notarization so important in immigration cases?
In many cases, the applicant must submit affidavits as supporting evidence for his or her case. The affidavits must be sworn in the presence of and signed by a Notary. These documents are critical, and they can make or break their case for immigration.

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