Immigration Assistance Laws

If you are looking for help with an immigration matter in the City of Chicago, there are things you should know about your rights as a consumer.

3 types of assistance providers:

  1. Licensed attorney, Illinois licensed attorneys are regulated by the Attorney and Registration Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois. A legal intern who is employed by and under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney may also render services in immigration matters. 
  2. Non-for profit agencies accredited by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). Accredited representatives may assist aliens in immigration proceedings before the Executive Office for Immigration Review’s immigration courts and Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), or before the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), or both.  All accredited representatives must be designated by an organization that is recognized by the Board.
  3. Immigration assistance service provider businesses licensed by the city.

In addition to being in compliance with Federal and State laws, immigration assistance service providers must comply with City of Chicago laws.

Requirements for immigration assistance service providers before they may help consumers:

  1. Regulated Business License - Immigration assistance service providers must obtain and maintain a current regulated business license.
  2. Signed Contracts - Immigration assistance service providers must enter into signed contracts with customers before providing immigration assistance. Contracts must include the following:
    • An explanation of the services to be performed;
    • Identification of all costs to be charged to the customer
    • A statement that documents submitted in support of an application may not be retained by the person for any purpose;
    • A statement that the person is not an attorney and may not perform legal services;
    • A statement that the customer may rescind the contract within 72 hours. The statement shall be in both English and in the language of the customer;
    • A copy of the contract shall be provided to the customer.
  3. Post Signs - Both Immigration assistance service providers and BIA-accredited agencies must post signs in a clearly visible location. Signs must be in English and in every other language in which the person provides or offers to provide immigration assistance services. Each sign must be at least 11 inches by 17 inches, and must state following:
    • The statement "I am not an attorney.”
    • If applicable, the statement “I am accredited to represent you before the United States Department of Homeland Security.”
    • The fee schedule.
    • The statement that "You may cancel any contract within 3 days and get your money back for services not performed."
    • The statement that “If you have a complaint about this business, contact: City of Chicago, Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection."
  4. Maximum charges allowed - The following are the maximum fees which may be charged to customers:
    • Preparation and completion of forms, letters and affidavits, the lower of either: $10.00 per page completed or $5.00 per quarter hour (not including applicable filing fees)
    • Photocopies is $0.25 per page
    • Change of Address is $3.00
    • Fingerprints is $10.00
    • Arranging for the preparation of photographs and fingerprints is $5.00 per quarter hour
    • Transcribing responses to a government agency form that is related to an immigration matter is $5.00 per quarter hour.
    • Arranging for the performance of medical testing (including X-rays and AIDS tests) and the obtaining of reports of such test results is $5.00 per quarter hour.
    • Executing any procedures necessary to obtain a document required to complete immigration forms is $3.00
    • Translation of Foreign Documents-The lower of either $10.00 per page for the translation of a non-English language into English where such translation is required for immigration forms; or $5.00 per quarter hour.
    • Judicial Records is $15.00
    • Notarizing Immigration Forms is $1.00
    • A maximum of $75.00 for one complete application. Fees authorized under this subsection shall not include application fees required to be submitted with immigration applications.

Immigration assistance providers may offer the following services:

  • Provide appropriate government forms as long as legal advice is not given.
  • Transcribe responses to a government agency.
  • Translate instructions, questions and answers on forms.
  • Assist in obtaining documents, such as birth and marriage certificates.
  • Translate documents from another language into English.
  • If licensed as a Notary Public, notarize signatures on government forms.
  • Refer clients, without fee, to attorneys.
  • Arrange for medical testing and the collection of results.
  • Conduct English language and civics courses.
  • Prepare or arrange for the preparation of photographs and fingerprints.

Immigration assistance service providers cannot keep any submitted documents for any reason.

Avoiding Immigration Scams:

BACP recommends avoiding any immigration consultant who:

  • Claims to have special influence with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or other government agencies.
  • Promises that immigration status can be “arranged” for additional money.
  • Represents themselves with titles other than immigration consultant.

If you have additional questions, please contact BACP at 312.744.6060. Call 3.1.1 to file a complaint. 

 Supporting Information Facts

 I Want To