On a drive through Houston's predominantly immigrant communities, you will undoubtedly see many advertisements for immigration legal services. Our city, unique for its abundant diversity, welcomes countless immigrants each year, many of whom will consult with an immigration attorney. Unfortunately, an increasing number of notary publics are preying on clients who make the literal English translation of "notario pubilico", a term that distinguishes specialized lawyers in many Spanish-speaking countries.
In Texas, practically anyone can became a notary public, an individual approved to do little more than verify signatures and identities of signers on written documents. The application process involves little more than proof of age (18 years or older) and proof of legal residency in both Texas and the United States.
In contrast, Mexican notarios publicos, for example, must hold a law degree, take a written exam, and study under a current notario publico for at least 6 months. Notario publico jobs are only secured by the most respected national lawyers. They serve as arbitrators, issue judicial opinions, and can mediate, serving a role that can best be understood (in the U.S. context) as somewhere between a practicing attorney and a judge.
Recently, countless notary publics, masquerading as attorneys in the US, have been exposed for offering false immigration legal services, charging astronomical fees, and incorrectly filling out petitions to USCIS. The errors often lead to expensive deportations, while a largely undocumented client base is habitually afraid to report them.
Many states have taken actions against predatory notary publics, who fatten their wallets by false advertisements. In Texas, the literal translation of "notary public" to "notario publico" is strictly prohibited, an effort to limit confusion for Spanish speakers. Still, abuse is rampant, and prosecution against this type of fraud is difficult. If you know of predatory notary publics or have fallen victim to their services, you should contact the Texas Secretary of State immediately.
For genuine immigration legal assistance, contact Houston immigration attorney Sebastian J. Simon. His experienced team of legal professionals has helped an immeasurable number of individuals and families with all of their immigration needs. For excellent immigration services in Houston, schedule a consultation with Sebastian J. Simon today.