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Need help with your USCIS forms?

You can file USCIS forms yourself, but many people choose to have help. You may need help writing in the answers to questions on USCIS forms or translating documents into English.  You can get this type of limited help from anyone. This person should only charge you a small fee and not claim to have special knowledge of immigration law and procedure.

Not sure what immigration benefit to apply for or which USCIS forms you need to file? Then you may need immigration legal advice.

Only attorneys or accredited representatives can:

  • Give you legal advice about which forms to submit
  • Explain immigration options you may have
  • Communicate with USCIS about your case

An attorney or a BIA-accredited representative can legally represent you before USCIS. Your legal representative must file a Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative, with your application(s).  USCIS will send information on your application to your legal representative.

WARNING: “Notarios,” notary publics, immigration consultants and businesses cannot give you immigration legal advice. In many other countries, the word “notario” means that the individual is an attorney, but that is not true in the United States. If you need help with immigration issues, be very careful before paying money to anyone who is neither an attorney nor a BIA-accredited representative of a recognized organization.

How can I find a licensed attorney?

The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) provides a listing of attorneys in your state who provide immigration services either for free or for little cost. The American Bar Association also provides information on finding legal services in your state.

When choosing an attorney you should:

  • Make sure that the attorney is eligible to practice in—and is a member in good standing of the bar of the highest court of — any U.S. state, possession, territory or commonwealth, or the District of Columbia.
  • Make sure that the attorney is not under any court order restricting his or her practice of law.
  • Ask to see the attorney’s current licensing document, and verify through the state bar association that he or she is a licensed attorney. 
  • Check the “List of Currently Disciplined Practitioners." This is where the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) lists people who have been expelled or suspended from practicing law before USCIS. Attorneys who are on the list and who have a “No” in the last column on the right may not be eligible to give you legal advice. Ask to see a copy of the reinstatement order from the BIA.

What if I live outside of the United States?

An attorney admitted and licensed to practice law outside the United States can represent you if your application or petition is filed in a USCIS office outside the U.S. This attorney must be:

  • Admitted and licensed to practice law in the country in which he or she resides
  • In good standing in a court of general jurisdiction of the country in which he or she resides
  • Currently practicing law as a profession

Additionally, this attorney must file a Form G-28I, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney in Matters Outside the Geographical Confines of the United States.  Please note, this attorney can only represent you if your case is being processed outside of the U.S.  If your case is transferred to a domestic USCIS office, USCIS will communicate with you directly.

Can a person who is not an attorney represent me?

Yes. You have the option of seeking help from a:

  • BIA-recognized organization
  • Law student or law graduate being supervised by an eligible attorney or a BIA-accredited representative

Accredited Representatives

A BIA-accredited representative working for a BIA-approved organization is eligible to represent you before USCIS and EOIR.  BIA accredited representatives are not attorneys, but they may give you immigration legal advice. An accredited representative must work for a BIA-approved non-profit, religious, charitable, social service or similar organization in the United States. Her or she may only charge nominal (small) fees, if any, for legal services.

If you choose to work with a BIA-accredited representative from a BIA-recognized organization, you should:

  • Check the BIA website for the List of Accredited Representatives and Recognized Organizations.
  • Ask to see the BIA order granting the application of the recognized organization.
  • Ask to see the BIA order approving the individual as an accredited representative. Approval is granted for three years.  Make sure that the BIA order is still valid and that the individual is approved to represent you before USCIS. The accredited representative should not have any problem giving you this information.
  • Check the “List of Currently Disciplined Practitioners.” Accredited representatives who are on this list, and who have  a “No” in the last column on the right, may not be eligible to give you legal advice.  You should ask the accredited representative if he or she has been reinstated to practice and ask to see a copy of the reinstatement order from the BIA.

Law students and law graduates

A law student participating in a legal aid program, law school clinic or nonprofit organization may represent you before USCIS if he or she is being supervised by a licensed attorney or BIA-accredited representative. The supervising attorney or accredited representative of the legal aid program, law school clinic or nonprofit organization must complete Form G-28 as your representative. See Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations (8 CFR), Part 292. The law student must sign the same Form G-28 submitted by the supervisiong attorney or BIA-accredited representative.

A law graduate not yet admitted to the bar but working for an attorney or a BIA-accredited representative may represent you before USCIS. The supervising attorney or a BIA-accredited representative must complete Form G-28 as your representative. The law student must sign the same Form G-28 submitted by the supervisiong attorney or BIA-accredited representative.

The law student or law graduate must have permission of the USCIS official before whom they seek to appear. The USCIS official may require that the supervising attorney or BIA-accredited representative accompany the law student or law graduate. The law student or law graduate may sign the application or petition as the "preparer."

Friends or relatives at your interview for support

You may bring a relative, neighbor, clergyman, business associate or personal friend to your interview or other appearances in person in a USCIS office.  This person is a "reputable individual" in the regulations at 8 CFR 292.1(a)(3). Reputable individuals may not file Form G-28. Instead, they must submit a statement to the USCIS/DHS official which states:

  • You personally requested they attend your interview
  • You have not paid them a fee to help you
  • The person's relation to you (relative, neighbor, clergyman, business associate or personal friend)  

Please note that the DHS official may decide not permit a reputable individual to appear at your interview.

Last Reviewed/Updated: 04/10/2013