Notario Fraud: Common Immigration Issue
So-called “notarios” have lately earned an infamous place in the public spotlight.
“Notario” is a term used in Latin American to denote a legal official. The term also sounds similar to English word “notary,” who likewise is NOT a lawyer, but can certify documents, take depositions, and do some other quasi-legal work.
Neither Spanish “notario” nor the English “notary” denotes an attorney. However, recently arrived immigrants tend to confuse both for lawyers, legal advisers, or attorneys specializing in immigration. Confusion is exacerbated by what essentially amounts to immigration fraud by crooks, who advertise as “notarios,” or notaries who misrepresent themselves as having all the powers of an attorney. This situation is commonly known as notario fraud.
A newly arrived immigrant relying on help from a “notario” sets himself up for big trouble: loss of savings, denial of immigration status, and deportation. Unfortunately, before becoming fully established in the US, a newly arrived immigrant oftentimes becomes an easy and defenseless prey to unscrupulous con artists.
A legal professional may be engaging in notario fraud if he or she:
- Charges unusually high fees for standard immigration paperwork.
- Claims to have s special relationship with authorities.
- Selling an otherwise free documents, such as immigration forms available online.
- Filing asylum applications while your case does not qualify for asylum.
- Guaranteeing receipt of permanent resident or citizenship status.
- Working from a shady business on “referral only” basis.
Before going to a notario, think twice. Even better, do not even consider substituting a notarios’ services for advice from a qualified immigration attorney.