Integrity Legal

25th Aug 2009

Apparently, the State of New York has made the decision to crack down on Immigration Consultants and so-called “visa agencies.” Only a licensed attorney or USCIS approved representative is entitled to prepare visa applications and petitions on behalf of clients pursuing United States Immigration benefits. In flagrant transgression of this rule, many companies in the United States of America provide unlicensed immigration advice. The State of New York has opted to take an aggressive position regarding this practice. To quote the a publication by the State of New York, promulgated through the American Immigration Lawyers Association:

“In thousands of cases across New York City and Long Island, these companies unlawfully filed immigration petitions with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of immigrants and their families, jeopardizing efforts to obtain legal status.”

Many people do not recognize how detrimentally these unscrupulous agencies can affect prospective immigrants’ chances of obtaining an American visa. The aforementioned publication quoted the New York Attorney General as saying:

“The consequences of bad legal advice can be absolutely devastating,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Fraudulent legal services can haunt individuals and their families for a lifetime. Companies and individuals that represent someone in a legal proceeding without having the authority to do so must be stopped, and my office will hold them accountable.”

It is good to see that local authorities in the United States are taking a firm stand against these practices. In a way, cracking down on these types of enterprises is of assistance to all immigrants and prospective immigrants because United States Immigration is a field that has been somewhat plagued by “fly by night” operations masquerading as attorneys and law firms in an effort to swindle clients out of their hard earned money.

Many of these organizations advertise “guarantees” and “full refunds” for failure to achieve desired results. In many cases, these too good to be true propositions are simply gimmicks to get unsuspecting immigrants to part with their money. Unfortunately, in Thailand “visa agencies” and those pretending to be lawyers prey upon uninformed foreigners and Thais. This practice is particularly prevalent in Thailand because many applications for visas are filed on behalf of family members who are of Thai extraction. Since Thailand is a sovereign nation independent of American legal jurisdiction, it is difficult for American authorities to apprehend those falsely claiming to be American attorneys. Therefore, the consumer environment in Thailand with regard to legal services is: Buyer Beware. Always ask if the attorney can provide a copy of their license to practice law from at least one jurisdiction in the United States.

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