Few people disagree that we are operating with a broken immigration system and is in need of reform. By now everyone has heard, and has developed an opinion on President Obama’s Executive Action on the matter.  On November 20th, President Obama announced steps that the Executive will take to fix the immigration system by providing a pathway for undocumented immigrants legal recourse to remain the United States.  The President said he will “fix what he can to help build a system that lives up to our heritage as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.” However, the Executive Action applies only to a small portion of undocumented individuals. For those who are impacted and will be able to apply for deportation relief visit: http://www.uscis.gov/immigrationaction.

As soon as the President announced his new proposal, immigration advocacy groups including the American Immigration Lawyers Association were warning ethnic communities of something known as “notario fraud.”  Undocumented immigrants, wanting to apply for government deportation relief, but not understanding the process are targeted by these notarios, looking to make money. Notario, is the title given to attorneys in Mexico, many Central and South American Countries. However, these notarios are not practicing lawyers in the United States, and at most may be considered “immigration consultants”. Notaries are not just in Spanish-speaking communities but in most insulated ethnic communities. If you see someone soliciting business either as a notario or as an immigration consultant, be sure to do your due diligence and start by checking their credentials (i.e.: are they a member of a State bar?). Only a certified attorney is qualified to provide you with legal advice and to assist with the filing or petitioning process.

If a notario claim that they can help you get relief now, they are misleading you. If you do fall into the limited group of people who will be eligible for “deportation relief” (again, please visit http://www.uscis.gov/immigrationaction to assess your eligibility) be advised that there is no application process yet. The regulation for the Executive Action will take 180 days to be written. This means at the earliest the applications will be available during late spring of 2015. So, while we encourage you to seek counsel immediately to assess your eligibility, be advised that a petition will not be filed for at least the next 6 months

And always, always, consult a qualified attorney to assist with your immigration needs.