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Avoid notarios when seeking legal advice

It can be difficult for immigrants to know where they can turn to for legal advice. The challenge of finding good legal help is made harder by imperfect translations between Spanish and English legal terms.

One point of confusion is the role that "notario públicos" serve. The literal translation of a "notario público" is a "notary public." 

In the United States, a notary public is someone that performs a number of duties, including:

  • Witnessing the signing of signatures
  • Creating certified copies of certain legal documents
  • Being present for an acknowledgment when someone signs a document

One duty that a notary public doesn't provide is legal advice.

This can be a difficult distinction to make. A notario in many Spanish-speaking nations is an attorney with special legal credentials. That definition of a notario is much different in the United States. A notario in the United States is not a lawyer. They also can't represent you in front of government agencies in charge of immigration issues.

Unfortunately, some people are committing "notario fraud." This entails someone marketing themselves as a notario who can provide legal advice to immigrants. This can cause people to spend a lot of money on legal services that they may never receive. 

The following steps can help you avoid falling victim to notario fraud:

  • Don't work with someone billing themselves as a notario if you're seeking legal advice in the United States
  • Avoid working with anyone who doesn't have a valid legal license
  • Check with the American Immigration Lawyer Association to find an immigration attorney near you

You should avoid putting your legal matters in the hands of a notario. It could result in you working with someone that doesn't have the legal skills needed to handle your case. A qualified immigration attorney is the key to helping you resolve your case in the best possible manner.

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