KNOW YOUR RIGHTS WHEN HIRING AN ATTORNEY OR OTHER LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE

Lately I have been receiving a lot of calls and hearing sad stories about the outcome of cases as a result of those who hire non-attorneys. In some cases when Immigration denies your case, I or some other attorney can repair the damage. However, in other cases where the problem is too severe, there is nothing anyone can do (not even me!). In those cases, deportation is the most likely outcome. Therefore, the reason for this week's article is to warn as well as inform my readers as to your rights and how to avoid similar sad outcomes. I know some people will not like what I have to say because it will expose them but if you know me, I do not care; I only care for what is right and just. After all, that is the reason why I became an attorney in the first place.

The Practice of Law

Rules governing licensing and registration of those who may legally practice law (to perform work, give legal advice, act on your behalf, etc) were created to protect you, the consumer. Only those who have a license or who are registered and bonded with the appropriate governing board, may practice law. Whoever practices law without said authorization or license or who holds himself out as an attorney without actually being one, is practicing law unlawfully. Such persons can be severely punished.

Communications Between Your Attorney and Immigration

Let's face it, you probably do not want to speak to Immigration yourself. Maybe you do not feel comfortable speaking English, or maybe you do not want to say something you might regret; whatever the reason may be, it is personal to each person and valid. The good news is that you have a right to request that USCIS contact and communicate with your attorney when they have procedural questions (Note: Of course, you will still need to answer your own questions during interviews, and etc, but in those cases, you can have your attorney present there with you).

If you have an agent acting on your behalf, either an attorney or legal representative, they should have or have had you sign a Form G-28. I and every other attorney I personally know has their client sign this form. This form is sent to Immigration to notify them that you are represented by an attorney or agent. Once this is received by Immigration, the general cause is for any questions or concerns by USCIS to be forwarded to your attorney. (Note: You can see a photo of Form G-28 on my FB page at: www.Facebook.com/ThaiAttorney).

Preparer's Signature and Certification

When preparing an application, petition, waiver, etc on your behalf, the preparer MUST sign their name on each form that is submitted to USCIS. On each form, there is a section at the end that requires the preparer, if any, to sign, certifying under the law that they did prepare your submission. If you hire someone and they do not sign this "Preparer's Certification", then you should ask yourself why?. What is the reason that they did not sign? Hmmm...I know why! Your preparer did not sign your form because they are not licensed and do not want to be held responsible for any problems. I have heard a lot of cases where the client has had a problem, goes back to the person who prepared their application, and that person (usually a "tanat"; or some legal assistant working on the side without their attorney's knowledge), denies everything. They say something like, "Sorry, I can't help you...you should go see an attorney". Again, be careful who you hire!

Case Number Tracking

You have the right to your own case number! This is important for you to have because without your case number, it will be difficult to track the status of your case. Although there may be other ways to get your status, it is much easier and faster if you have your case number.

JC's Conclusion: You have rights! Although I have informed you of some of them, please keep in mind that you have many more. Also, if you do not hire me as your attorney (although I don't know why you wouldn't, but that's beside the point), at the least, please hire another reputable, experienced attorney to handle your case from the start. I say "from the start" because I want you to do it right the first time. It is more complicated and more costly to fix things after the damage has been done...and in some cases, sad to say, nothing can be done to fix your case. Immigration law is always changing and your status of living here in the United States is too important to take a chance with non-attorneys or "tanats".

If you have any questions still left unanswered or you have general questions regarding other legal issues, or even if you have comments, please email me at: JC4LAW@HOTMAIL.COM or contact my office at (818) 846-5639, or my Thai direct line at (818) 505-4921. Also be sure to check us out on the web at: WWW.JC4LAW.COM, and on FACEBOOK at: https://www.facebook.com/ThaiAttorney Be sure to follow (and "like") me for the most recent updates in the law! For those in Thailand or outside of the United States, I am now reachable using the LINE app. My LINE ID is: JC_Esq


Disclaimer: The information contained herein have been prepared for informational purposes only and are not to be considered legal advice unless otherwise specified. If you have a specific question regarding your personal case, please contact the Law Offices of Joseph Chitmongran for a full consultation.