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A Notary’s Guide To California’s Rules For Immigration Consultants

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Updated 4-23-19. If you’re a Notary and an immigration consultant in California, you must always be sure to follow state rules regarding registration, business practices and advertising. Here’s a summary of state and federal laws affecting California Notaries who also wish to offer immigration services.

Immigration Consultant Definitions

Under California Civil Code, an immigration consultant is defined as someone who gives nonlegal assistance or advice on an immigration matter. In other words, you provide services that do not cross the line into giving legal advice or legal assistance. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Completing a form provided by a state or federal agency using information provided by the customer
  • Translating a person’s answers to questions on a state or federal immigration form
  • Getting copies of supporting documents such as birth certificates
  • Submitting completed forms on a customer’s behalf to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
  • Making referrals to professionals who can undertake legal representation for a person in an immigration manner

Immigration Consultant Requirements

Immigration consultants in California must register with the Secretary of State’s office, file an immigration consultant disclosure form, and post a $100,000 surety bond.

Immigration Consultant Restrictions

Because of widespread fraud committed by con artists who prey on immigrants using foreign language titles such as “notario publico,” California has strict restrictions regarding Notaries who wish to offer consulting services to immigrants, including the following:

  • A California Notary cannot advertise as both an immigration consultant and a Notary Public.
  • An immigration consultant may not offer legal advice about a client’s immigration situation.
  • An immigration consultant may not represent someone before USCIS in an immigration proceeding. Only a qualified immigration attorney or an accredited representative of an organization recognized by the federal government may represent someone before USCIS.
  • Notaries and immigration consultants in California are prohibited from advertising using the Spanish language title “notario” or “notario publico” or other literal translations of “Notary Public” in other languages.
  • Notaries who are not attorneys in California and who advertise in a language other than English must post a notice in English and any other language advertised that the Notary is not an attorney and may not give legal advice about immigration or other legal matters. The Notary must also post the statutory Notary fee schedule on the notice.

Fee Limits For Nonattorney Notaries Working As Immigration Consultants

In California, nonattorney Notaries who are bonded as immigration consultants may not charge more than $15 per set of forms for entering information provided by a client on state or federal immigration forms (Government Code 8223).

David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.

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1 Comment

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Cheryl Cameron

28 May 2018

The following comment is not intended as criticism, but as an honest question: if notaries are only able to charge $15/ package to assist someone in filling out the immigration forms, why is the class on immigration consulting $250? That is more than the class for loan signing agent, where a notary can make substantially more of an income. The fee for the immigration consulting seems a little high.

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