When you have confusing immigration documents you need to file, you may need help filling them out. But when you search for help, you might find people calling themselves notarios. They will offer to help you with your papers for a much lower price than legal professionals. However, they may not file anything for you at all.
Notarios in Ohio are known to scam people out of thousands of dollars. They will offer to file applications for immigrants that end up being fake. This practice puts many immigrants at risk of deportation.
Notarios in the US do not need legal training
If you are from a Hispanic country, you may know notarios as legal professionals. They must have training in the law and can give out advice on legal matters.
However, in the U.S., notarios do not have to have the same education and experience. Only attorneys and people called “accredited representatives” can give legal advice. Those who call themselves notarios may just be scamming people who need help with immigration issues.
A notario scam might take your money and ID
When pretending to offer help, a notario might ask for important documents like a passport or birth certificate. They may ask people to sign blank forms and tell them they are applications for the United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS). Then they will ask people to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for their services.
At this point, the notario may steal the identification documents and file a false application with USCIS. Those who use notarios can miss out on important deadlines and face deportation. They also lose their identification and money.
Notarios cannot give legal advice
The Federal Trade Commission offers fotonovelas that outline the risks of notarios. They also warn that only attorneys and accredited representatives can give legal advice. And as of September 2019, Ohio forbids people from advertising themselves as notarios.
If you see someone offering services with immigration as a notario, you may want to avoid them.