How to choose an immigration lawyer and avoid fraud
Immigration fraud, unfortunately, is a common occurrence, very often immigrants get hooked by scammers when looking for a lawyer. We have gathered some tips on how to choose the right lawyer, check his license and a history of violations, if any.
To avoid fraud on the part of lawyers and people impersonating them, it’s worth accepting following precautions:
1. Ask for the attorney’s full name and license number from the state attorney. Before hiring a lawyer or paying any amount of money, find the information about him on the state bar website where he was allegedly licensed to find out if his license is valid and if there have been any violations on his part.
Sites and phones of bar associations in the states with the largest number of Russian-speaking immigrants:
- California - 800-843-9053 or visit Web site.
- New York - 212-428-28-00 or visit Web site.
- New Jersey - 732-214-85-00 or visit Web site.
- Florida - 1-833-FL1-WELL; 1-833-351-9355 or visit Web site.
- Illinois - 312-726-8775; 800-678-4009 or visit Web site.
2. If the lawyer represents you in immigration matters, make sure that he has a license for this type of practice. Lists of lawyers, including immigration lawyers, who have been stripped of their licenses (and have not restored so far) or have been disciplined by the US Department of Justice can be found at link.
3. Draw up a contract in writing, and also require a receipt of your payments. These documents, if necessary, will become evidence in court. Moreover, fraudsters usually avoid signing them, so a refusal by a lawyer to formalize a cooperation should officially alert the client.
4. Take extra care if you are required to pay for services in cash, and not at the expense of the office or organization. If you still decide to pay in cash, be sure to ask for a written receipt.
5. Do not hire anyone who threatens to inform the federal authorities of your immigration status to represent your interests if you do not pay him.
6. Keep a documentary archive of interactions with a lawyer. If you didn’t pay from your bank account and cannot take the statement, save the cash receipt; get a receipt from the lawyer, as well as an invoice with a detailed description of the services provided to you (you have the right to demand it). And keep all these documents until the issue with which you turned to the lawyer is resolved.
Where to go if you are a victim of a fraudster posing as a lawyer
People who are victims of immigration fraudsters can file a legal complaint with the state bar. There is no need to pay to file a complaint, and you do not have to be a US citizen. The bar will not ask applicants for citizenship or immigration status. The complaint form in most states is available not only in English, but also in Russian.
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