1. A notary public is not a lawyer. In order to be a lawyer in the US, you must go to law school for three years after having a college undergraduate degree. It is a post-graduate course of study for which there is no equivalence. After graduation, you must pass the Bar Exam of the State in which you work. The reason for this is that a lawyer is a professional who is held responsible financially and legally for his decisions. If a lawyer makes a mess of your case, he can lose his license to practice, and, therefore, his livelihood. A lawyer HAS TO BE RESPONSIBLE. A notario/notary public is a person that just pays for a stamp and is not a felon.
2. A notary public, is NOT a professional, and cannot practice immigration law. Some foreign lawyers who are admitted to the Bar in New York or New Orleans can practice “foreign law” or federal law. Immigration Law is federal law, but it involves a lot of state law. It is very difficult to practice immigration law without touching on corporate or family law, and if you do that, you are no longer just practicing federal law. If you are not a lawyer who is admitted to the Bar by the Supreme Court of a US state, or are working directly under the instructions and responsibility of a lawyer, all you can do is fill out a form based on the information given to you in writing by the person. No one but a lawyer or his employee can instruct you on what form to use, or what information to put in. This is illegal.
3. A lawyer must have certificates to prove graduation from a US Law School and admission to a State Bar. When you enter a Law office look for the certificates and verify them with the local bar association. A degree from Law School is not enough, admission to the bar by the Supreme Court of a State, preferably the State the lawyer practices in, is necessary. Otherwise, you are not protected if something goes wrong. If you don’t see it, ask for it. Any lawyer who has it will exhibit it somewhere.
4. There has to be a lawyer in charge of the firm. If you don’t meet with a lawyer, ask to meet him/her. If there is not one to be found, hit the ground running.
5. Never pay all the fees up front. Lawyers are held to strict accounting. We can ask for a reasonable retainer fee, but the work has to be done to use the fee. If the work is not done immediately, then there is an escrow account where the money stays until the work is done so you can be reimbursed if the work is not done. A lawyer cannot front costs for your work. Cost must be paid by the client before the work is done. You should not pay the $1000 245(i) penalty when you are beginning to file a labor certification. The costs are paid when they are about to be incurred.
6. It is cheaper to pay a professional than to underpay a charlatan. Look to the professional for help. It is always more expensive to clean up a mess or fraud than it is to go see a professional. Only a professional lawyer, an expert in his field, will be held responsible for the time and money invested. The rest is usually gone with the wind when trouble starts.
7. A notary public in the US is defined as: A person who pays the State for a stamp to certify someone’s signature.
8. A paralegal is someone who is there “ONLY” to execute legal work. A paralegal knows how to do work under the guidance of a lawyer. In the U.S., paralegals work like the arms of the office. But if a law office and a lawyer do not support those arms, they are dangling freely out there and make for lots of heartache.
9. Your life is not limited to just filling in blanks on a form. Every line of those USCIS forms reflects your life. Every time a person guides you to choose a form or fill it out, they are affecting your course in life. They are a step on your path to legal status. Do not turn your life over to someone who has not studied the law and its consequences.
10. Don’t use the services of a notary public or paralegal for things they cannot and should not be doing.
This article is solely a partial explanation of all the issues related to the topic of this newsletter, and is not to be considered legal advice. Persons interested in obtaining more information should consult with their legal counsel to obtain explanations of all issues addressed herein.