In our practice as immigration lawyers in Orlando, FL, almost every week we receive visits in our office from people who have been defrauded or scammed by “notaries” and unscrupulous paralegals, as well as by dishonest lawyers.
In many cases, such clients have spent thousands of dollars on a lawyer or notary public for “legal services” and promises of visa, business or residence, which are never fulfilled.
Contrary to what happens in some Latin American countries, where the title of notary or notary public is conditioned to that person being at the same time a lawyer, in the United States notaries are persons assigned by state governments exclusively to authenticate the signature of documents and administer oaths.
Some notaries take advantage of such confusion interpretation about what it means to be a notary in the United States to defraud Hispanic immigrants and charge high sums of money for a legal service they do not know and that they are not authorized to provide.
Even if a notary tells you that he can help you, or that he was a lawyer in another country, they can not provide you with any immigration-related services or legal advice. However, they can do terrible and permanent damage to your case. The best advice is to consult a lawyer, and if possible, an immigration lawyer.
Only an attorney, or a representative accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) can give you legal advice.
The Immigration and Citizenship Service (USCIS) as well as the Federal Trade Commission give the following recommendations:
- Do not pay for immigration forms. These forms are free and can be downloaded from the internet.
- Seek help on official US government sites. There are websites that are similar to government sites.
- Do not pay a notary for legal counseling services. Notaries are not authorized to help you, even if you pay them.
- Make sure your contract is in Spanish, keep in mind that you must detail your services and the cost you will pay.
- Make copies of all documents you sign and deliver during the process.
Do not pick up calls or emails from alleged USCIS agents who, in exchange for money, offer “preference” in the process.
Attorney Pablo Cabrera and Cabrera & Associates, P.A. have vast experience as immigration attorneys, both in the Orlando, FL area and throughout the United States. Feel free to call us at (407) 884-6789 or visit us at our offices.