Integrity Legal

11th February 2010

As many are aware, the tragedy in Haiti left many Haitians without a home. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has acted with alacrity in authorizing Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to those Haitians who were in the USA at the time of the earthquake.  In this situation TPS was granted based upon humanitarian reasons as US policymakers felt that it would be inhumane to send Haitians back to a devastated nation.

Like many facets of American Immigration, the recent announcement regarding TPS for Haitians has resulted in “fly by night” operations preying upon the public by claiming that they can assist. Fortunately, USCIS made the following announcement:

“Please be aware that some unauthorized practitioners may try to take advantage of you by claiming they can file TPS forms. These same individuals may ask that you pay them to file such forms. We want to ensure that all potential TPS applicants know how to secure legitimate, accurate legal advice and assistance. A list of accredited representatives and free or low-cost legal providers is available on the USCIS website under Resources/Finding Legal Advice. Please see our Fact Sheet, “USCIS Warns of Immigration Scams Targeting Haitian Applicants for Temporary Protected Status” for helpful tips and further information on how to protect yourself from becoming a victim of fraud. We hope you will use this resource.”

“You do not need to have an attorney or a representative to apply for temporary protected status. If you choose to have a representative when filing an application or petition with USCIS, you may be represented by an attorney or an accredited representative of a recognized organization. Your representative must file a “Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative” form (Form G-28) with your TPS application. Please visit the “Finding Legal Advice” page on the USCIS website for more important information on this topic.”

Those seeking assistance in US Immigration matters should keep in mind that only a licensed attorney or an indvidual certified by the Board of Immigration Appeals is entitled to represent clients before USCIS, the Customs and Border Protection Service, and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service. In Thailand, many so-called “law firms” claim that they can assist in Immigration matters such as K1 visa and K3 visa obtainment when in fact they are legally precluded from doing so under US law unless they have US licensed attorney on staff. Anyone claiming to be a US attorney should be asked if they can produce a license to practice law in the USA or a membership card to an American Bar Association.

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