Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘immigration specialist’

19th September 2010

This author has frequently discussed the myriad problems that Immigrants can face when dealing with an unlicensed American immigration “agent” or “specialist“. American law and Federal Regulations are clear regarding the issue of who is allowed to provide legal services in matters arising before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) specifically; or any of the other agencies which are overseen by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Only licensed attorneys from the United States of America are able to provide consultations about US Immigration matters for a fee. Furthermore, only an attorney licensed by the Highest Court of least one US State, Commonwealth, or outlying territory is allowed charge fees to represent clients before DHS, including USCIS.

Unfortunately, there are some unauthorized organizations throughout the world claiming to be able to provide advice and assistance in American Immigration matters. The internet has proven to be a great tool for those wishing to research matters pertaining to United States Immigration. Meanwhile, it has also provided a platform for some operations which claim legal expertise without appropriate training or licensure. Such individuals and entities ought to be avoided at all costs since information transmitted to such individuals and entities may not be protected by the usual legal protections accorded to communications conveyed between an American attorney and their client. Furthermore, one who is not legally trained or not licensed to provide legal services in a given jurisdiction or about a particular subject cannot provide effective counsel nor lawful confidentiality to those seeking their assistance. This can be especially important to those conveying sensitive information about a case pending before an immigration tribunal, agency, US Embassy, or US Consulate abroad. Those engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in the aforementioned manner are thereby placing their own interests, as well as those of their unsuspecting “clients’”, in jeopardy.

When comparing the costs of legal service it is important to understand the pivotal role of licensure when making a decision to retain counsel. No licensed legal professional is likely to have a problem with prospective clients shopping for a reasonably priced service with a professional that they feel comfortable dealing with. In general, licensed American attorneys find that competition with other professionals makes for a healthy and prosperous business environment, but to compare the services of a licensed American immigration attorney with one who is not licensed to practice law creates a false comparison as US law is clear that those without licensure cannot provide the services which they claim they can provide in an immigration context. In short: one cannot compare a legal service with an illegal service from a price standpoint as an illegal service provider simply cannot provide such services at any price.

For further information please see: licensed lawyer. To learn more about US Immigration from Southeast Asia please see: US Immigration Law Thailand.

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22nd May 2009

In Thailand there are many so-called “visa agents,” “Immigration Consultants,” and “Immigration Specialists,” who sound legitimate, but who are in fact unlicensed practitioners of law. Only an attorney licensed and in good standing in at least one of the 50 United States, territories, or possessions is entitled to practice United States Immigration law. Internal memos at USCIS have even delineated exactly what constitutes the “practice of law,” for US Immigration purposes. 

According to USCIS, even advising another person about which form should be used to file for a certain type of visa constitutes the practice of law. To advise another in this manner without being duly licensed by at least one US state to practice law would constitute the UNLICENSED, and therefore UNLAWFUL practice of law. 

In the United States there is a prevalence of so-called “notarios,” these are operators who prey upon unsuspecting immigrants in both the United States and Mexico. In Thailand, these people use names such as: visa consultant, visa agent, visa specialist, immigration consultant, immigration agent, immigration specialist, legal consultant, or simply legal advisor. A problem in Thailand is the fact that the government has no mechanism for regulating us visa lawyers in Thailand. This is especially confusing for the layman because only a licensed American attorney is authorized to represent a client before USCIS. Therefore utilizing a Thai attorney or Thai law firm to prepare an immigration petition is not proper procedure per USCIS regulations if the attorney filing the petition is not licensed in the USA. 

Even worse than mere visa agents, there are those who falsely claim to be attorenys from the United States. Again, the lack of foreign attorney registration in Thailand contributes to a proliferation of this type of character.

The real problem with these outfits and unscrupulous operators is the fact that often they have no real grasp of US Immigration Law. Immigration law is one of the most complex areas of American jurisprudence and because it is entirely statute driven it can change very quickly and for a non-lawyer who does not keep abreast of new legislation the ignorance can be damaging to a client’s case. 

In cases of great complexity (601 waivers, IMBRA issues regarding fiancee visas, forum issues for K3 visas, etc.) a visa agent or anyone else without a great deal of experience and education in immigration can detrimentally affect a prospective immigrant’s chances of entry into the USA, possibly for life.

There are certain non-profit organizations that are allowed to represent immigrants before USCIS. Generally these groups deal with refugees, but in certain instances they deal with other issues. That being said, the operative term is NON-PROFIT meaing that this type of representative generally will not charge a fee, and if they do, then the fee is usually nominal.

That being said, when contacting an attorney or anyone regarding American Immigration, always ask which state the attorney is licensed in and inquire about his or her bar number.  

For more please see:

US Immigration Lawyer Thailand

K1 Visa Thailand

K3 Visa Thailand

(The information in this piece is intended for educational and informational use only and should not be used in place of an attorney consultation. For legal advice please consult a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction. No attorney client relationship is formed between the reader and author of this post).

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