Warning on People Advertising Assistance

We have been hearing stories all around the country about people taking advantage of the immigrant community. They call themselves advocates, notarios or sometimes lawyers. They advertise their services to “help” young immigrants apply for deferred action under the new Obama policy and charge hundreds or thousands of dollars.
We are anticipating that the Deferred Action application process will be straightforward for the majority of applicants, but some will have issues as part of the process.
When the details of the application process are available in the coming weeks, we will provide more guidance on who will need a lawyer. Here is some advice you can follow for now:

What you should do

Make use of free or low-cost legal clinics from non-profit organizations, especially if you don’t have a difficult case (no criminal history or any other issues that may cause your application to be denied. You can find one near you.

Contact your local immigrant youth organization or another immigrant advocacy organization in your community and ask them to refer you to a good lawyer.

Use the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s directory to find a lawyer.

Make sure your lawyer is a member of her/his state’s bar association before you use him/her (you can search for your state bar association membership directory online).

What you should NOT do

Don’t use the services of anyone calling themselves a notario or an unlicensed lawyer.

Don’t use the services of anyone promising to get you a green card as the result of the new Obama policy.

Don’t use a lawyer’s services just because they advertise somewhere or they are a friend of your family.

With caution and at your discretion, it may be appropriate to engage the services of an immigration attorney now to begin collecting/reviewing documentation that will support your application. If you engage an attorney, be sure s/he is licensed and someone you trust.

In preparation for deferred action, here are some tips on working with lawyers.

If you have become the victim of a scam by a lawyer or notario you should report it to federal or state consumer protection agencies. For more information you can visit http://www.stopnotariofraud.org.