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California Immigration Consultant Information and Requirements

Who may help with immigration forms?

Anyone with the know-how may provide limited help with immigration forms. This type of help is called “non legal services” and includes reading a form, translating information and filling out forms with answers provided by clients.

California requires filing a disclosure form and bond to qualify to provide non legal immigration services.

Only attorneys and accredited representatives of approved nonprofit organizations may explain immigration options or forms, give advice about which immigration forms to submit, represent clients in immigration proceedings and communicate with the USCIS about an immigration case.

What is a California Immigration Consultant?

A California immigration consultant is a person who is qualified and bonded to provide non legal assistance regarding an immigration matter.

What services can a California Immigration Consultant provide?

An immigration consultant may provide non legal services related to an immigration matter, including but not limited to:

  • Completing a federal or state immigration form — but not advising a person as to their answers.
  • Translating a person’s answers to questions in immigration forms.
  • Securing supporting documents, such as birth certificates, which may be necessary for a person to complete immigration forms.
  • Submitting completed forms on a person’s behalf to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • Making referrals to legal representation for a person in an immigration matter.

What fees can a California Immigration Consultant charge?

  • Immigration consultants may not engage in “price gouging” — pressuring a client to purchase services immediately because purchasing later will result in a higher price.
  • Immigration consultants may not charge a fee for making a referral for services.
  • State law sets a maximum fee Notaries may charge for entering data into immigration forms. The maximum fee is $15 per individual for each set of forms. The $15 fee applies to entering data into immigration forms. It does not set fee limits for other immigration consultant services such as translating, securing supporting documents, submitting completed forms and other services.

How do I become a California Immigration Consultant?

  • File an Immigration Consultant Disclosure form with the secretary of state.
  • Submit fingerprints and pass a background check.
  • Submit a 2" x 2" color passport photo.
  • Submit a copy of a current photo ID (driver’s license or U.S. passport).
  • File a $100,000 bond.

How often must I pay the premium on my Immigration Consultant bond?

You must pay your immigration consultant bond premium every two years. The bond is continuous and does not have to be refiled with the Secretary of State. You only must pay your renewal premium on time.

If there are changes to the information on your Immigration Consultant Disclosure, you must notify the Secretary of State within 30 days of your bond renewal.

Otherwise, there is no re-filing requirement with the Secretary of State.

May a California Notary become an Immigration Consultant?

Yes, but there are fee limits for some services. State law sets a maximum fee Notaries may charge for entering data into immigration forms. The maximum fee is $15 per individual for each set of forms.

There are no maximum fees immigration consultants who are Notaries can charge for services, including translating, securing supporting documents, submitting completed forms and other services.

Like everyone, a California Notary must file a disclosure form and an immigration consultant bond with the secretary of state to serve as an immigration consultant.

Why are California Notaries limited to $15 for entering data into immigration forms?

The law is intended to protect immigrants.

The $15 fee applies to entering data into immigration forms. It does not set fee caps for other immigration consultant services such as translating, securing supporting documents, submitting completed forms and other services.

And remember, the limit is per individual for each set of forms.

What is a “set of forms”?

The law doesn’t say. This appears to describe forms needed for a specific action at a particular time. There may be other interpretations. Use caution and consider what is reasonable.

I’ve heard that California Notaries who are Immigration Consultants cannot advertise Notary services. Is this true?

No. California Notaries qualified and bonded as immigration consultants may advertise Notary services. The restriction applies to Notaries not qualified and bonded as immigration consultants.

If I become an Immigration Consultant may I also perform Notary Signing Agent work?

Yes.

Are there other requirements for California Immigration Consultants?

Yes. To protect immigrants, the law requires immigration consultants to follow several business practices. These include requirements for posting signs and providing notifications, advertising, contracts, handling funds and issuing receipts, recordkeeping and returning original documents.


For more information, contact the California Secretary of State's office:
1500 11th Street
2nd Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
+1 (916) 653-3984

Grow your career as an Immigration Forms Specialist

Notaries, tax preparers and other professionals who regularly handle official documents are well-equipped to add immigration form preparation to their business.