Find Legal Services

Need help with your USCIS forms?

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services provides free resources to help guide you through the application, petition or request process. You can visit our site to download free forms and instructions, get case status updates, or schedule an appointment online to have your questions answered at a local field office.

You can file USCIS forms yourself, but many people choose to have help. Someone who is not an authorized immigration service provider is only allowed to:

  • Read you the form;
  • Translate, either verbally or in writing, information from your native language to English or English to your native language; and
  • Write down information that you provide to complete the form.

Anyone is allowed to give you this type of limited help, and may charge for it. This person should only charge you a small fee and should not claim to have special knowledge of immigration law and procedure.

If you are not sure what immigration benefit to apply for, or which USCIS forms to submit, then you may need immigration legal advice from an authorized service provider. Only authorized immigration service providers can help you beyond basic preparation or translation of forms.

Who are authorized immigration service providers?

Authorized immigration service providers are:

  • Representatives accredited by the Department of Justice (DOJ)’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) and working for EOIR-recognized organizations; and
  • Attorneys in good standing who are not subject to any order restricting their ability to practice law.

Authorized immigration service providers are allowed to:

  • Give you advice about which documents to submit;
  • Explain immigration options you may have; and
  • Communicate with USCIS about your case.

An attorney or a EOIR-accredited representative can represent you before USCIS. Your legal representative must file Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative, with the related application, petition or appeal. USCIS will send information about your case to your legal representative if you have one.

Accredited Representatives

A EOIR-accredited representative working for a EOIR-recognized organization may represent you before USCIS. Some accredited representatives may also represent you before the Executive Office for Immigration Review. EOIR-accredited representatives are not attorneys, but they may give you immigration legal advice.

An accredited representative must work for a EOIR-approved nonprofit, religious, charitable, social service or similar organization established in the U.S. An recognized organization must primarily serve low-income/indigent clients and provide its fee waiver policy for those unable to pay.
If you choose to work with a EOIR-accredited representative from a EOIR-recognized organization, you should:

  • Check the EOIR website for the List of Accredited Representatives and Recognized Organizations.
  • Ask to see the EOIR order granting the application of the recognized organization.
  • Ask to see the EOIR order approving the individual as an accredited representative. Approval for accredited representatives is granted for three years. Make sure that the EOIR order is still valid and that the individual is still eligible 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, are not 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 EOIR.

Attorneys

In order to represent you before USCIS, an attorney must be:

  • Eligible to practice law in -- and a member in good standing of the bar of the highest court of -- any state, possession, territory, commonwealth, or the District of Columbia.
  • Not under any order of any court suspending, enjoining, restraining, disbarring or otherwise restricting him or her in the practice of law.

Attorneys do not need to be licensed in the state where they live or practice to represent you before USCIS.  As long as they are eligible to practice law, and in good standing in every jurisdiction where they are licensed they can represent you before USCIS.

How can I find authorized immigration service providers online?

The EOIR provides a listing of attorneys in your state who provide immigration services either for free or for little cost. They also provide a list of accredited representatives and recognized organizations. 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 agency responsible for regulating attorneys that he or she is eligible to practice.
  • Check the List of Currently Disciplined Practitioners. This is where the Executive Office for Immigration Review lists people who have been expelled, disbarred 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 are not eligible to give you legal advice. Ask to see a copy of the reinstatement order from the EOIR.

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

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., and if the DHS official before whom he or she wishes to appear allows the representation. This attorney must be:

  • Admitted and licensed to practice law and in good standing in a court of general jurisdiction in the country in which he or she resides; and
  • 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 or accredited representative help me?

Yes. As explained above, someone who is not an authorized immigration service provider may provide limited help such as reading a form or translating and writing down information you provide.

In addition, generally speaking, you may bring a relative, neighbor, member of the clergy, business associate or personal friend  to help you at an interview or other appearance in a USCIS office. This person is known as a "reputable individual."

Bringing a “reputable individual” to a meeting with USCIS

Reputable individuals do not file Form G-28. Instead, in order to be able to help you,  reputable individuals must submit a statement to the USCIS/DHS official before whom they wish to appear which states that:

  • You personally requested the individual’s help;
  • You have not paid the individual a fee to help you;
  • The individual has a pre-existing relationship with you (relative, neighbor, member of the clergy, business associate or personal friend); and
  • The individual does not regularly engage in immigration practice or preparation and does not hold himself or herself out to the public as qualified to engage in immigration practice or preparation. 

Please note that USCIS may decide not to permit a reputable individual to help you.

A person who comes with you only to help with language translation does not need to submit a statement.

Law students and law graduates

Sometimes, attorneys and accredited representatives may be assisted by law students or law graduates. You should never work with a law student or law graduate on your own, but only through an eligible attorney or accredited representative.

Last Reviewed/Updated: