Many not-for-profit agencies across the U.S. provide free or low-cost immigration help.


Warning: Notario públicos (or immigration consultants) cannot give immigration advice.

In the U.S., notario públicos (or immigration consultants) are not lawyers. They do not have formal training in immigration law.  And, they are not authorized by the U.S. government to represent you in your immigration case. They may certify your identity and your signature, but they are not qualified to give immigration advice or help with an immigration application.

  • Avoid immigration consultants and visa consultants. 
  • Avoid travel agencies and real estate offices that offer immigration advice. 
  • Do not believe anyone who tells you that there is a secret new immigration law or an amnesty. 
  • Do not believe anyone who says he or she has a special connection with any U.S. government agency.

Since notario públicos and immigration consultants do not have formal training in immigration law, they often file the wrong immigration applications and miss important filing deadlines. These mistakes can prevent you from getting legal immigration status in the future. Some notario públicos and immigration consultants just take your money and never file your immigration application.

Notario públicos and immigration consultants remain in business because immigrants are afraid to complain about them. If you have been harmed by a notario public or immigration consultant, go to or call (202) 442-3363 for a list of agencies that can help you.

You should only get immigration advice from (1) a licensed lawyer or (2) an accredited representative of a not-for-profit agency recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) of the U.S. government.

A licensed lawyer is a person who has a valid license from a particular state to practice law.  To find out if a lawyer has a valid license and is allowed to represent you before U.S. Immigration officials:

  • Ask the lawyer, “In what state are you licensed to practice law?”  You can also ask to see the license and write down the license number.
  • Then, contact the “state bar association” or the state court system to find out how to check if the license is valid and if the lawyer is in “good standing.” For a list of state bar associations, visit the American Bar Association website
  • Do not use a lawyer on this list. Lawyers on this list are not allowed to practice before U.S. Immigration officials.

An accredited representative is a person who works for a not-for-profit agency recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) of the U.S. government. For a list of accredited representatives in your area, go to

Visit our immigration topic, here to find a list of immigration legal aid providers in your area. Simply, select the issue that best describes your legal problem, put in your zip code and then look under "Find Legal Aid in NYS".

If you do not qualify for free or low-cost immigration help, contact the American Immigration Lawyers Association for a referral to a licensed immigration lawyer.

This guide was prepared for general information purposes only. The information it contains is not legal advice. Legal advice is dependent upon the specific circumstances of each situation. Also, the law may vary from state to state. Some information in this guide may not be correct for your state. To find local resources, visit and select your state. 

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Last Reviewed: February 21, 2013