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Where To Find Immigration Help

Notaries-Can-Help-Immigrants.jpgWith millions of immigrants seeking assistance with their citizenship or residency status, it can be a challenge figuring out where to get the right help. This is especially true given the complexity of U.S. immigration law. Here are three resources that can provide legitimate and effective assistance to immigrants, depending on their needs.

Immigration Attorneys

Attorneys are one of two categories of authorized immigration service providers who can offer advice about forms and documents, explain options and represent immigrants in their dealings with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), according to the agency.

The American Immigration Lawyer’s Association (AILA) maintains a “Find an Immigration Lawyer” database of its 15,000 members that allows the public to search by legal specialties, location and languages spoken.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) also maintains a list of attorneys who offer services to low-income immigrant clients at no charge.

Accredited Representatives

The other category of authorized immigration service providers who can represent individuals in dealings with the USCIS are individuals accredited by the U.S. Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). These individuals, called accredited representatives, are part of the Recognition and Accreditation Program, which is intended to provide low-cost legal assistance to immigrants.

There are about 2,000 accredited representatives. Under federal rules, accredited representatives must work for a non-profit organization recognized by the DOJ to offer immigration assistance.

The EOIR maintains and regularly updates lists of recognized organizations and accredited representatives.

Immigration Forms Specialist

Not every immigration matter requires specialized legal advice or assistance. For simple help with immigration forms, there are Immigration Forms Specialists (IFS).

These individuals may read forms to clients, translate information and write down information provided by clients. Immigration Forms Specialists are not attorneys and may not offer legal advice or represent clients in immigration proceedings.

Some states use specific terminology to classify Immigration Forms Specialists. In California, for example, they are called Immigration Consultants; in Michigan they are Immigration Clerical Assistants; Nevada terms them Document Preparation Service Providers; and New York calls them Immigration Assistance Providers.

A Final Caution

There are many unscrupulous individuals who take advantage of immigrants. So always make sure to verify the credentials of any potential service provider and avoid becoming a victim of a scam.

Michael Lewis is Managing Editor of member publications for the National Notary Association.

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Nguyen

06 Jun 2018

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