Unauthorized practice of immigration law

Unauthorized practice of immigration law


To the Editor:

Readers may be surprised to learn in our small community, there are victims of the unauthorized practice of immigration law (UPL). Some are non-attorneys, holding themselves out as being qualified to handle immigration legal services. Others are called “notarios,” which in many Latin American countries would provide certain limited legal services. However, in the United States, state and federal laws strictly limit who can provide legal advice to immigrants. These individuals must not offer immigration services because of how unforgiving and complex our laws are — if done incorrectly, a client could unknowingly ruin their chances of legal status forever, and/or risk being deported from the U.S.

Victims of UPL may contact the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection in Madison and file a complaint. The form is available online in English and Spanish: https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/Programs_Services/DownloadConsumerComplaintForm.aspx. For those seeking qualified legal help, an immigration attorney or BIA accredited representative are good choices. There are a number of organizations that offer free assistance in our area, including Catholic Charities, Centro Hispano, James Place Immigration Services, and United Migrant Opportunity Services.

Victims of unauthorized practice of immigration law may be denied or lose lawful status in the United States, as well as unimaginable hardships such as being separated from spouse, children and/or other loved ones. We should all care because maybe one of these victims is our neighbor, our fellow parishioner, our co-worker, or our friend.

Shelly Principe

Town of Geneva

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