Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Immigration Rights | Non-legal Immigration Services Prohibited

In Washington State, Governor Gregoire signed SSB 5023 "Addressing non-legal immigration services." As a lawyer that practices immigration law, I support this bill. I believe this bill will improve the quality of immigration legal services. 

This legislation forbids non-lawyers from giving legal advice in several immigration matters. Many lawyers came together to provide examples of harm to clients.

On Section 3, RCW 19.154.060 is amended to include law that states that non-lawyers cannot charge money for practicing immigration law.

Specifically, non-lawyers CANNOT:

-- determine if a person’s status is legal or illegal,
-- select or suggest an appropriate visa program,
-- interpret the meaning or intent of a government agency in an immigration matter,
-- charge a fee for referring another to an immigration lawyer,
-- draft or complete legal documents affecting legal rights of another in an immigration matter,
-- imply that the person possesses professional legal skills in the area of immigration law.

Note that a lawyer may supervise a non-lawyer to perform immigration law activities.

This bill is directed against “notarios” and other people who misrepresent themselves to prospective immigration clients.