Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘Visa Company’

29th April 2010

In a recent case that was heard and adjudicated by the United States Supreme Court, the issue of Immigrants’ right to counsel was taken up and the outcome of the case resulted in a landmark opinion and a watershed moment for the rights of Immigrants in the United States of America. The case is known as Padilla v. Kentucky, the following quote comes from an email from the Law Corporation of Alice M. Yardum-Hunter:

The case involved a 40-year permanent resident, Jose Padilla, whose criminal defense lawyer advised him not to worry about the immigration consequences of pleading guilty to a crime. That advice was not only wrong but the guilty plea subjected Mr. Padilla to mandatory deportation from the United States. The Kentucky Supreme Court held that Mr. Padilla had no right to withdraw his plea when he learned of the deportation consequence. The Supreme Court reversed that decision and rejected the federal government’s position – also adopted by several other courts – that a noncitizen is protected only from “affirmative misadvice” and not from a lawyer’s failure to provide any advice about the immigration consequences of a plea. The Court held that Mr. Padilla’s counsel was constitutionally deficient and affirmed that immigrants should not be held accountable when they rely on incorrect advice from their lawyers or where counsel fails to provide any immigration advice at all.

The implications of this case are important for attorneys practicing in the United States as they will now be required to provide advice about the legal consequences of certain activities from an Immigration perspective.

This is also important for those American Immigration Lawyers practicing outside of the United States. For example, if an individual with lawful permanent residence in the United States is abroad and learns of a pending criminal warrant or fugitive warrant, then that individual may choose to retain the advice of a US lawyer outside of the United States. In that case, the lawyer would be required, under the provisions of this recently adjudicated decision, to provide advice regarding the immigration consequences of a guilty plea in a pending criminal matter.

This example illustrates one more reason why it is so important to retain the advice of an individual who is licensed to practice law in the USA. This is particularly important in a country such as Thailand where the existence of “visa companies,” “visa agents,” and unlicensed and non-accredited so-called “lawyers” and “attorneys” operate with little oversight. Many are unaware of the implications of a criminal pleading in an immigration context and this ignorance can lead to unforeseen difficulties for US Immigrants overseas.

For information about United States Immigration from Thailand please see: K1 Visa Thailand.

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12th March 2010

This blog regularly discusses scam artists and fly by night operators who claim to be licensed US immigration lawyers, US “visa agents”, or “immigration consultants.” However, it was has been rare to see these people brought to justice. In recent months the New York State Attorney General has been increasingly putting pressure upon these types of operators. In a recent posting on the AILA (the American Immigration Lawyers Association) Leadership Blog the writer reports that the Attorney General’s efforts are finally bearing fruit:

“The latest victory in the fight against immigration fraud and victimization was announced by Cuomo’s office on March 1, 2010. The Attorney Generals’ Office has won a court judgment of more than $3 million against a “consultant” in Queens who has targeted and defrauded immigrants. In this case, the “consultant” routinely charged a retainer of $7,000 with fees often reaching up to $15,000 per person for the promise of permanent residence. The consultant wrongly claimed that she could get permanent resident status through alleged relationships with government officials. Of course, the services were never performed and the consultant routinely refused to give refunds or return documents.”

Refusals to provide refunds when appropriate, refusals to remit documentation, an inability to complete necessary tasks, and contentions of “special influence” are all hallmarks of these types of operators as most of these activities are either unethical or illegal. Those harmed in the matter discussed above at least have been granted some measure of recompense as the AILA Leadership Blog noted:

“As a result of Cuomo’s lawsuit, the New York Supreme Court has ordered the consultant to pay full restitution to 37 families who came forward and demonstrated that they were defrauded by this consultant. An additional $2.7 million in penalties was imposed for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law and misrepresentation of services that could be performed. The consultant is also permanently restricted directly and indirectly from engaging in the business of immigration-related services.”

Hopefully, this judgment will grant some relief to those detrimentally affected by this individual’s actions. In a final quote from the Blog:

“…New York City and State continues and serves as an example for all who are committed to fighting immigration fraud and the unauthorized practice of law.”

This author could not agree more adamantly. I applaud the efforts of Attorney General Cuomo as the unlicensed practice of law is a serious issue that can have very unfortunate consequences for the “clients” of those claiming to be attorneys. As always, if seeking legal advice about any matter make certain that the person providing the advice can produce a license to practice law in the jurisdiction where they are practicing. In the case of US Immigration law, an American attorney should be able to produce a Bar Card or license promulgated by the highest court in one of the 50 United States as defined in the US Immigration and Nationality Act.

For information about US Immigration attorneys in Thailand, please see: US Visa Thailand.

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