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USCIS Initiative to Combat the Unauthorized Practice of Immigration Law

Dec. 8, 2010

The unauthorized practice of immigration law (UPIL) endangers the integrity of our immigration system and victimizes members of the immigrant community. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to launch an initiative to combat this exploitative practice by:

  1. Promoting public understanding of the best ways to find bona fide legal advice and avoid scams;
  2. Building capacity for legitimate assistance and services; and
  3. Supporting enforcement action against those who engage in the unauthorized practice of immigration law.

 

Unauthorized Practice of Immigration Law

The unauthorized practice of immigration law occurs when those who are not attorneys or accredited representatives:

  1. Provide legal assistance to applicants or petitioners in immigration matters;
  2. Charge more than a nominal fee; or
  3. Hold themselves out to be qualified in legal matters.

 

USCIS will begin the initiative with a focus on six pilot cities: New York, Baltimore, Atlanta, Detroit, San Antonio, and Sacramento. In the first half of 2011, USCIS will host engagement sessions in the six pilot cities to collect input on specific local concerns. The engagement effort will have two areas of focus: 1) to solicit the expertise of federal, state, and local government partners on current UPIL trends and enforcement tools; 2) to hear input from community stakeholders on the scope of the local UPIL problem, the current resources available to them, and the need for further resources.

USCIS plans to expand this initiative nationwide in 2011.

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