By Susan Brouillettte
To practice immigration law, a person must either be an attorney or a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) accredited representative. In addition, practicing accredited representatives must be employed or volunteer with a DOJ Recognized nonprofit organization. The Lafayette Urban Ministry (LUM) Immigration Clinic is one of 20 DOJ Recognized Organizations in Indiana. The practice of immigration law includes providing immigration advice, filling out immigration forms, and drafting legal documents for a case. Unlike notarios, who are NOT authorized to provide legal immigration services, DOJ accredited representatives can practice immigration law and provide legal immigration services to clients.
The LUM Immigration Clinic is supported by 3 volunteer attorneys and has a paid and volunteer staff of 6 accredited representatives, with 5 additional people in the process of becoming accredited representatives. People applying for accreditation must take at least 40 hours of classroom training and 40 hours of practical training to become authorized immigration law practitioners. When making a determination about an application for accreditation, the DOJ also looks at the character and fitness of the representative, including their honesty, trustworthiness, diligence, professionalism, and reliability. The prospective representative’s immigration status and criminal record are also checked before granting accreditation.
In addition to being recognized by the DOJ, the LUM Immigration Clinic is a member of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), the largest network of nonprofit immigration programs in the United States. The LUM Immigration Clinic is also a member of ASISTA. ASISTA is a national nonprofit dedicated to helping attorneys and advocates assist immigrant survivors of crime with their immigration matters, ultimately enhancing their safety and security. Both CLINIC and ASISTA provide the LUM Immigration CLINIC with technical assistance from experienced immigration attorneys, training and continuing education regarding policy changes, and immigration laws and instruction on how to maintain quality standards and practices.
For more information on DOJ recognition and accreditation, including a current roster of recognized offices and accredited representatives, see https://www.justice.gov/eoir/recognition-and-accreditation-program.
Learn more about notarios, who are NOT authorized to practice immigration law
Don’t become a victim of immigration scams! If you need legal advice on immigration matters, make sure the person helping you is authorized to give legal advice. Only an attorney or an accredited representative working for a Department of Justice (DOJ) recognized organization can give you legal immigration advice.
As part of its ongoing effort to raise awareness about scams targeting the Latino/a community, the Federal Trade Commission has developed a series of fotonovelas, including one based on nationwide complaints about notario scams to the FTC from Spanish speakers. The stories offer practical tips to help detect and stop common scams.
Learn more, download the two fotonovelas:
- How Miriam and Pedro Learned about Notario Scams (English)
- Cómo se enteraron Miriam y Pedro de las Estafas de Notario (Spanish)