The Unauthorized Practice of Immigration Law

What is the unauthorized practice of immigration law? 

The unauthorized practice of immigration law is often referred to as UPIL. UPIL occurs when an individual who is not an attorney offers legal advice or legal services. The Code of Federal Regulation defines practice as “the act or acts of any person appearing in any case, either in person or through the preparation or filing of any brief or other document, paper, application, or petition on behalf of another person or client before or with DHS.” Preparation that involves the practice of law means “the study of the facts of a case and the applicable laws, coupled with the giving of advice and auxiliary activities, including the incidental preparation of papers” 

What is not categorized as the unauthorized practice of immigration law?

The Code of Federal Regulation also asserts that the unauthorized practice of law “does not include the lawful functions of a notary public or service consisting solely of assistance in the completion of blank spaces on printed DHS forms, by one whose remuneration, if any, is nominal and who does not hold himself or herself out as qualified in legal matters or in immigration and naturalization procedure.” In other words, a non-lawyer may help you transcribe information to the forms or translate the forms, but a non-lawyer may not advise you on the law or how to fill out the forms. 

What are examples of the unauthorized practice of immigration law?

Some example of the unauthorized practice of law are described below: 

  • When an non-attorney holds themselves out to the public as an attorney and takes advantage of unbeknownst clients 
  • When a non-attorney creates a business that helps non-citizens with the process of completing and filing all forms needed for their case. 
  • When a local non-attorney, who may have good intentions, advises and aids a non-citizen on their journey to citizenship. Although this is a seemingly innocent act with good intentions, this also constitutes the unauthorized practice of immigration law  

What are the risks with hiring a non-lawyer to advise on citizenship matters or immigration law generally? 

Hiring a non-lawyer to advise on immigration or citizenship matters might be less costly, but in the long run it might cost you much more. A non-attorney is not well versed in the intricacies of immigration law and may damage your case. Please reach out to a licensed and reputable immigration attorney regarding any immigration matters. 

EPGD Business Law is located in beautiful Coral Gables. Call us at (786) 837-6787, or contact us through the website to schedule a consultation.

*Disclaimer: this blog post is not intended to be legal advice. We highly recommend speaking to an attorney if you have any legal concerns. Contacting us through our website does not establish an attorney-client relationship.*

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Eric Gros-Dubois

Founding partner Eric Gros-Dubois established EPGD Business Law in 2013. With over a decade of experience expanding the firm and leading it to its current success, Eric now primarily manages the corporate division of EPGD. Given Eric’s educational background, holding both a JD and MBA, combined with his own unique experience of starting a business from scratch and growing it to a multi-million dollar firm, he brings a specialized and invaluable perspective to those seeking legal assistance for themselves and their businesses. Having now instilled his same values in our team of skilled corporate associates, Eric leads a firm that is always ready, willing, and equipped to handle any and every legal matter that a business owner may have.


*The following comments are not intended to be treated as legal advice. The answer to your question is limited to the basic facts presented. Additional details may heavily alter our assessment and change the answer provided. For a more thorough review of your question please contact our office for a consultation.

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