Get the Right Help:
The best way to avoid falling prey to an immigration scam is to seek advice from the right source. Subject to some very limited exceptions, only an eligible “attorney in good standing” or an “accredited representative” can give U.S. immigration advice or represent immigration clients. This means that foreign attorneys, not licensed to practice in the U.S., are generally not allowed to give U.S. immigration advice or represent clients. Moreover, notary publics and so-called immigration consultants and businesses cannot give legal advice or represent U.S. immigration clients unless they fall into one of the following categories.
Determining if a Person Is an Attorney in Good Standing:
An “attorney in good standing” is a person that is,
- Eligible to practice law in — and a member in good standing of the bar of the highest court of — any U.S. state, possession, territory, commonwealth, or the District of Columbia; and,
- Not under any order of any court suspending, enjoining, restraining, disbarring or otherwise restricting him or her in the practice of law.
To determine if this is the case, the client should ask the potential attorney to give the client a listing of all U.S. locations he or she is licensed to practice law in. Then, for each of these, the client should do an online search on the lawyer directory of the relevant legal bar association to verify that the potential attorney is in fact a member of that bar and in good standing. As an example, here is a link to the Lawyer Directory for the state of Washington: https://www.mywsba.org/LawyerDirectory.aspx.
In addition, the client may want to visit the website of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (“EOIR”) for a list of individuals who have been expelled or suspended from practicing law before U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (“USCIS”): https://www.justice.gov/eoir/list-of-currently-disciplined-practitioners.
Determining if a Person Is an Accredited Representative:
An “accredited representative,” for the purpose of providing U.S. immigration services, is a person who,
- Has been accredited by the EOIR; and,
- Is working for an organization that is recognized by the EOIR.
To determine if these requirements are met, simply ask to see the EOIR orders (1) granting the application of the recognized organization and (2) approving the individual as an accredited representative. You can also check the EOIR website for the list of accredited representatives and recognized organizations: https://www.justice.gov/eoir/recognition-accreditation-roster-reports. Keep in mind these orders do expire.
In addition, you may want to ensure that the representative is not on EOIR’s list of currently disciplined practitioners: https://www.justice.gov/eoir/list-of-currently-disciplined-practitioners.
If you have have been the victim of a scam or have any further questions on this subject, please do not hesitate to contact us. You may contact us by clicking here.