BEWARE OF NOTARIOS.  In many Latin American countries, a “notario público” has legal training and can prepare legal documents.  Here in the United States, however, a “public notary” can only check ID and witness signatures. They do NOT have any legal training, CANNOT give legal advice, and should NOT prepare immigration applications.  Notarios often prey on people’s fear and ignorance, and give people false hope by filing poorly-prepared applications that at best are a waste of money, and at worst put people’s status and future in the country at risk.  Sometimes they tell people there’s no hope, when there may actually be a solution. Before you consult anyone to help you, make sure that they are an attorney licensed to practice law. You can also check to see if they are registered with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, a professional group for immigration lawyers.


When deciding to consult an immigration lawyer, ask around with your family, community, church, school.  Everyone’s case is different and no attorney can guarantee a particular outcome, but you can ask your contacts to recommend someone who treated them with dignity, explained all available options, warned about risks, and promptly returned their calls.