Dow sues immigration services providers

Bryan Cohen Sep. 7, 2011, 1:42am


NEWARK, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Attorney General Paula Dow and the state Division of Consumer Affairs filed complaints on Wednesday against four allegedly fraudulent immigration services providers.

The businesses - Beltra's Agency, Corazon Travel Agency, Helping Honduras Inc. and Kingdom Vision Service Corporation - allegedly used false advertising saying that they were authorized to prepare immigration documents on behalf of clients. Only attorneys or certain other accredited representatives who have been authorized by the federal government may file legal documents, including immigration forms, on a client's behalf.

The individuals who worked for the four businesses were or allegedly claimed to be notaries public, capitalizing on the confusion about the powers of a notary public in the United States. In certain Latin American countries, "notarios publicos" may act as attorneys, but in the United States, notaries public or "immigration consultants" cannot provide immigration legal advice or prepare legal documents on behalf of clients.

"Businesses that seek to exploit their affinity to immigrant groups, and those that deliberately capitalize on confusion as to what a notary public can do in this country, too often victimize legal immigrants who are seeking to extend their visas or attain permanent residency," Dow said. "Notaries public in New Jersey are fully informed of what they can and cannot legally do. Some may exploit the ignorance of others, but they cannot plead ignorance about their own actions."

The four businesses allegedly violated New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act and Advertising Regulations by misleading consumers into believing they were authorized to prepare and file legal documents with USCIS and provide immigration legal advice when they were not authorized to do so, illegally charging hundreds of dollars for the preparation of USCIS legal documents.

Also named in the complaints were the owners of the businesses, Beltra Gomez, Hector Gomez Jr. and Henry Gomez of Beltra's Agency; Rafael Garcia of Corazon Travel Agency, which also did business as Corazon Agency; Blanca Hilda Cardenas of Helping Honduras Inc., which also did business as Helping the Immigrant Community; and Denise Perez of Kingdom Vision Service Corporation, which also did business as Kingdom Vision Multiservice.

Each of the four businesses allegedly placed Spanish-language advertisements in newspapers, offering immigration services or offering help with "naturalization."

Even though the federal government allows non-attorneys and non-authorized agencies to provide "limited" help for "a small fee," the state alleges that Corazon Travel Agency, Kingdom Vision Service Corporation and Helping Honduras Inc. all quoted prices between $400 and $2,900 for preparing legal immigration documents.

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