The Difference Between Notarios and Attorneys

New immigrants to the United States have a lot on their minds. They may have heavy familial responsibilities weighing on them and they may be limited on funds. The added pressure and stress of dealing with legal immigration issues, especially if they are unable to speak English, can be overwhelming. It is no surprise why immigrants turn to “Notarios” and so-called Immigration/Visa consultants to handle their immigration affairs. These individuals offer a relatively cheap service that promises the results of a licensed attorney. The fact is that these people are not attorneys and it is actually illegal for them to do the work of an attorney and relying on these charlatans can be catastrophic for an immigrant.

In Hispanic countries, Notarios are legal professionals that can serve some functions of an attorney such as providing legal advice and drafting documents. When Hispanic people come to the United States they may believe the Notarios here can provide the same services that they provide in their home country. It turns out Notarios and immigration consultants can only do one thing, which is type up documents.

Notarios at the most can fill out immigration forms with information provided by the immigrant and can translate the applicant’s answers into English if necessary. They cannot provide legal advice, make legal decisions, or represent the applicant in court. These are all services that only a licensed attorney can provide.

If a Notario or immigration consultant offers any type of legal advice, they are committing an illegal practice of law. Any legal advice given by a person not licensed to practice law, is a crime committed by that person. Even something as simple as recommending that an immigrant use a specific form would be a violation.

If a Notario does illegally provide immigration advice, there is a high likelihood that the advice that they do provide is flat out wrong. Immigration law is very complicated and a minor mistake could mean the difference between staying in the United States or being deported. A good case can be undone in the hands of someone who is unqualified and the potential money saved cannot make up for a denial of a visa, denial of residency, denial of citizenship, or deportation.

It is absolutely critical that immigration cases be handled by licensed immigration attorneys. Consider that Notarios cannot represent an applicant in court. So, what happens when a client has an immigration hearing in court? The Notario hires an attorney of course. Not only is the client going to now be represented by a person that does not know their case well and has no relationship with them, but they are also going to now have to pay for an attorney anyways.

Hiring a good experienced immigration attorney at the start means that lawyer is going to be with you at every step of the process. An immigration attorney is going to be able to give you sound legal advice and provide you with options you did not know were available. An immigration attorney will be able to represent you in court and advocate on your behalf. A Notario or immigration consultant will not be able to provide you with any of these things and you’re better off avoiding them.