In the immigration community, you commonly hear about Notario’s scamming innocent immigrants in the US. Often, the Notario is a not trained in law at all, and for a large sum of money, files the wrong papers and causes no end of trouble for the immigrant. Of course, this is not always the case. Some Notarios are quite competent and very public in their assistance to the immigrant community. Regardless, there is no such thing as a “notario” in the US. Each and every one of them is unlawfully practicing law (usually really badly).

So, what happens when a notario comes to you with an immigration issue? What happens when the bad-guy comes looking for assistance? We do considerable work in the immigration and criminal defense sectors. I had a chance to discuss this with a good colleague of mine, Mr. Franchesco Martinez, Esq (not a Notario!) from North Carolina. He brought up this case, and I thought a wider audience could benefit from our question and answer parley:

The substance of the questions are as follows:

I have a PC who wants to see if he still has a GC, wants to know if naturalization is possible, and wants to know if he has any deportation orders. I know this sounds broad, but PC has no idea what to do now. PC was in Federal prison – the family member who spoke to me mentioned “Convicted of Notario Fraud” in a very brief sentence. Apparently, the potential client was in jail for four years.

I want to read up on the effects of Notario Fraud. Is general “fraud” all I have to consider? Does anyone have a good, go-to, online source for “notario fraud”? Would a FIOA be beneficial to answer if PC still has a GC or if a deportation occurred while in prison or sometime thereafter?

First, a couple of basic principals. When things look weird, always get a FOIA. There you go.

Secondly, never trust you know everything you need to know about the client’s chargeserr…more politically correct: client’s have trouble remembering things).

Thirdly, a green card (LPR) can only be revoked by a judge. However, a federal judge could technically revoke status – so, you need a copy of the sentencing papers from federal court. If there is nothing in the FOIA return about an immigration determination, than guess what? He still is technically an LPR. However…

The mere status as “one who is an LPR” really doesn’t do much without the credentials. An I-90 would be very risky in this instance, as it requires biometrics.

This seems obvious, but…no, he can’t travel. Ever. If he gets picked up on a return trip from overseas, he will be held without bail. Period. Basta. Ende da storio.

So – as for notario fraud, such a thing does not exist to my knowledge. There is no charge for “notario” – that is a term used in a foreign countries to denote an official empowered by the state to conduct certain legal business. In the US, the charge would be unauthorized practice of law, coupled with a possible fraud count. Any description of “notario” would be in the arrest affidavits describing the nature of the offense, not the charge itself. Again, do nothing without court papers in hand, so the advice to get information is spot on.

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