Protect Yourself! Learn How to Get the Best Available Immigration Help

Shop smart!

  • Find a qualified legal services provider,
  • Ask questions, and
  • Get a second – or third – opinion before you decide who to hire.

Compare providers before you hire.

Look for a provider who will:

  • Answer your questions, and
  • Tell you your options.

Shop, check, and compare

  • Talk to 2 or more legal service providers,
  • Check each provider’s license/status, and
  • Don’t use anyone who doesn’t follow the rules explained here.

Do NOT hire anyone who:

  • Says “Trust me,” without answering your questions,
  • Guarantees that you will win your case, or
  • Promises you a work permit or visa right away.

In California, only 3 kinds of providers can help you with your immigration case:

  • Lawyers
  • Non-profit agencies with Accredited Reps (The U.S. government authorizes some people to help with immigration. They are called accredited representatives)
  • Bonded Immigration Consultants

WARNING - New Immigration Policy, but no new amnesty!

On Nov. 20, 2014, President Obama announced a new temporary relief from deportation for some immigrants. Not all immigrants will qualify. The policy focuses on parents of United States citizens and permanent residents. It is important that you get help from a non-profit agency, accredited representative, or lawyer. Do not pay anyone to wait in line. 

For more information:

WARNING! Do NOT use anyone advertised as a notario publico. In the U.S., notaries are not lawyers. Notarios cannot give legal help.

Lawyers can:

  • Give you legal advice,
  • Help you apply, and
  • Speak for you in Immigration Court

Look for a lawyer specializing in immigration.

To make sure your lawyer is licensed visit: or call (415) 538-2000. Ask the lawyer the lawyer for her state bar number.


Non-profits with Accredited Reps can:

  • Give you legal advice, and
  • Help you apply (in most situations)

To make sure your Rep is authorized, check them out at:

DO not use an accredited rep who is not on this list!


Bonded Immigration Consultants can:

  • Give you the forms you need and help you fill them out.
  • Translate questions and answers for your forms.
  • Help you collect documents.

Immigration consultants are not lawyers. They must say they are not lawyers and have signs in their offices saying they are not lawyers.

They cannot:

  • Give you legal advice,
  • Speak for you in Immigration Court, or
  • Keep your original documents.

Be careful! Only bonded immigration consultants can help with immigration cases.

Check if your consultant I bonded at:

Checklist: Bring this with you when you meet the provider…

Did the provider:

  • Show you her credentials or proof she paid the bond?
  • Ask you to sign a written contract?
    • Make sure the contract lists the services you will get and how much you will pay.
    • If you don’t speak English well, bonded immigration consultants must give you a contract in your language, too.
    • If you cancel in writing within 72 hours of signing the contract with a consultant, you have the right to get all your money back.
  • Explain the forms and the process?
    • Do not sign blank forms.
    • Ask for translation, if you need it.
    • Do not sign anything that isn’t true or that you do not understand.
  • Give you copies of your contract and all papers filed for your case? (You may have to ask for the copies.
    • Keep your copies in a safe place.
    • Do not give your provider original documents. Lawyers (not immigration consultants) may need your original documents to give to immigration authorities.
  • Give you receipts for your payments? Make sure the receipt is signed by the provider and says:
    • The date you paid, what services you paid for.
  • Tell you the interest rate for any loan or payment of fees?

WARNING! Do not hire anyone who…

  • Refuses to give you a written contract
  • Charges you for blank immigration forms. Get fee forms at:
  • Charges you to “get on a waiting list” or “put your application in line” for immigration reform. There is no list. There is no line.
  • Guarantees you a wok permit or promises you a god result because of their special contacts at Immigration.
  • Pretend to be a qualified lawyer or bonded immigration consultant.
  • Takes your money without giving you the services promised.
  • Asks you to lie on a form or sign a blank document. If you do this, you may never get your immigration application approved.
  • Keeps your original documents ot charges you to get them back.


Your local District Attorney


State Bar of California

(800) 843-9053


Federal Trade Commission


Office of Immigrant Assistance, CA Department of Justice


Information provided by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center

1663 Mission Street, Suite 602, San Francisco, CA 94103