In Riverside and Orange Counties, many immigrants may have questions about forms and other documents required by the government to maintain legal status or achieve permanent residency. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services warns those seeking immigration help to avoid common scams promoted by people who are not authorized or accredited to provide immigration assistance. Signs, phone calls and advertisements on the radio, television and Internet are a few of the ways these dishonest people attempt to reach those who need legal advice.
Any person who requests personal information or payment for services over the phone is not a government official. If someone tells an immigrant that there is a problem with documentation, an attorney or government agency should be contacted to verify this information. Businesses may also offer assistance filling out forms and filing them. No one who charges money for these forms or claims to be able to speed up the process is honest. USCIS forms are free on the agency’s website.
While Notario Publicos are legal professionals in Hispanic countries, the National Notary Association points out that a notary public in the United States does not have the same status. The state of California commissions Notaries to witness the signing of documents. They are not authorized to provide legal immigration advice or assistance, and an immigrant should avoid dealing with them. A person who claims to be affiliated with the Immigration and Naturalization Service is also a scammer. This government agency was dismantled in 2003, and the Department of Homeland Security now provides those services.
Authorized immigration help is available through organizations recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals such as the USCIS or through an attorney.