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AG warns of immigration services scams
by Tribune Staff
Jul 24, 2012 | 1267 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CARSON CITY — Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto is advising Nevadans to beware of immigration scams, especially those involving “notaries” and those working out of multi-service establishments.

The Spanish word “notario” has different definitions in different parts of the world. In some Latin American countries, “notario” refers to a lawyer or someone who holds public office. In the United States, a “notario” is someone who notarizes public documents. Multi-service establishments are those that might offer any of the following: tax return preparation, rapid refund, notarization, insurance, passport and visa services, personal financing and immigration services.

“Notarios,” notaries public, immigration consultants and businesses (including multi-service establishments) cannot provide immigration legal advice under Nevada law. People who need help with immigration issues should be careful before paying money to anyone who is neither an attorney nor an accredited representative of a recognized organization, according to a press release from Masto. Scammers exploit the word “notario.”

The State Bar of Nevada, which regulates attorneys in this state, also has the statutory power to seek injunctions against non-lawyers, including “notaries” and paralegals, who independently provide legal services to the unsuspecting public. In fact, for more than 10 years, the State Bar of Nevada has had personnel specifically assigned to investigate allegations regarding the unauthorized practice of law in Nevada.

“As part of a national initiative to combat the Unauthorized Practice of Immigration Law, the Las Vegas and Reno field offices of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) launched a partnership with federal, state and local agencies in Nevada last year,” said John Kramar, USCIS District 25 director for Nevada and Arizona. “People can find out more about how The Wrong Help Can Hurt and get tips on avoiding scams at”

According to USCIS, going to an unauthorized provider for assistance with immigration services can delay an application or petition, cost unnecessary fees and lead to removal proceedings.

On June 15, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced that effective immediately, certain young people who were brought to the United States as young children do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and if they meet several key criteria, they will be considered for relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings. Those who demonstrate that they meet the criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization.

USCIS will begin implementation of the application processes within 60 days of the June 15 announcement.

There are already attorneys and notary-type services advertising immigration services. They cannot make eligibility determinations because the full details are not known.

Victims of an immigration services scam can report it the FTC, State Bar of Nevada and the Nevada attorney general’s office. Individuals who misuse or are suspected of misusing the term “notario” should be reported to the Nevada secretary of state’s office at 684-5708. Reporting scams will not affect a person’s immigration application or petition.
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