An important bill for immigrant consumers has been prime sponsored by Sen. Margarita Prentice, D-Renton and signed into law by the governor. Senate Bill 5023 clarifies that only a licensed attorney or a federally recognized individual can represent people who want visas, temporary or permanent residency status. This Attorney General (AG) request bill was also primed in the House by Rep. Phyllis Kenney.
"Very simply, this is a consumer protection bill," said Prentice. "In many languages the term ‘notario publico’ means attorney, but means notary public here. The AG's office can provide stories of families handing over life savings in exchange for citizenship, asylum or visas only to learn their ‘attorney’ was a fraud. This can result in deportation proceedings and even ruin chances of obtaining legal status. My bill removes the use of misleading titles and provides legal recourse."
Prentice's Immigration Services Fraud Prevention Act solidifies the following in law:
- Only attorneys or someone recognized by the federal government to represent people in immigration matters are allowed to provide legal advice regarding immigration.
- People other than attorneys are allowed to translate forms, secure marriage and birth certificates and other non-legal immigration services.
- Any term such as ‘notario publico’, ‘notario’ and ‘immigration assistant’ that could imply attorney in another language are prohibited.
- If these rights are violated, the injured may bring a civil action to recover either $1,000 or actual damages caused by a violation, whichever is greater.
- Washington's law is brought in line with federal law.