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Immigration Law Mythbusting: Why The Wrong Help Can Hurt Your Immigration Case

| Sep 20, 2020 | Firm News

There’s a common misconception that’s prevalent throughout Spanish-speaking immigrant communities, which we would like to address in today’s blog.

At the heart of the matter, is the word “notario,” which can refer to an attorney in Spanish and resembles the word “notary” in English. Unfortunately, some ill-intentioned people have used this confusing translation to scam immigrants by leading immigrants to believe that they are attorneys. A notary public in the United States is NOT an attorney and cannot give you legal advice in exchange for money.

When looking to hire someone to help you with your immigration case you need to make sure that the person who helps you is authorized to do so.

The people that are authorized to help you with your immigration case are:

  • An Attorney or a representative accredited by the U.S. Department of Justice; or
  • Other people, such as relatives, friends, and document preparers. However, these people cannot give you legal advice.
What is legal advice?

Legal advice is the giving of an opinion regarding how the law or a procedure of the law applies to a person’s particular factual situation. Legal advice often requires looking at the particular circumstances in a person’s case and advising that person on the next steps to take, how to answer particular questions, and/or the best course of action to take based on the law that applies.

For example in immigration cases, a document preparer or notario cannot help you interpret the questions on the immigration forms, cannot explain your immigration options, or tell you how best to answer the questions in the forms.

If a notary public insists that they are a “notario” and can help you with your immigration matter or handle other legal matters, they are not telling you the truth. Being a notary public only means that the person is authorized to fill out the form without giving you legal advice and witness the signature of documents.

Many people believe that using a notary might be less expensive than using an attorney, but this is not always the case. In many cases, notarios give people the wrong advice or convince them to apply for an immigration benefit they are not eligible for by promising to get the person a work permit. The wrong advice or applying for a benefit you are not eligible for can land you in deportation proceedings where you will need to hire an attorney or you will have to represent yourself. To make matters worse, a notary’s mistakes won’t always be reversible. Immigration matters are very complex and a mistake can hurt your chances of obtaining a positive outcome for your case. In the end, the use of notary can be more costly than hiring a competent immigration attorney from the start of your case.

We want you to hire the right person that can help you with your immigration matter and that the person you hire has the skills and experience to give you trustworthy guidance. At Rotella & Hernandez, we pride ourselves on being a firm you can trust. If you have questions about the difference between a notary and an attorney, or if you’re interested in working with us on your immigration case, contact us today.