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KNOWLEDGE CENTER

How to Become a California Immigration Consultant

The following questions and answers about California immigration consultants are not meant to be exhaustive. For details about specific requirements, qualifications, permitted services and prohibited conduct, please contact the California Secretary of State's office.

What is a California immigration consultant?

A California immigration consultant is a person who is qualified to provide non-legal immigration services. To qualify, the state requires immigration consultants to file a disclosure form and bond.

Immigration consultants are categorized as Immigration Forms Specialists, along with immigration assistance providers and immigration clerical assistants.

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 long does a California immigration consultant bond last?

California immigration consultant bonds come up for renewal every two years. The bond is continuous and does not have to be refiled with the Secretary of State when you renew. But you are required to pay your renewal premium on time.

What services can a California immigration consultant provide?

An immigration consultant can 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 on how to answer the questions.
  • Translating a person’s answers to questions in immigration forms.
  • Securing supporting documents, such as birth certificates, which may be necessary to complete the 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?

Currently, California law only sets fee limits for Notaries who are also immigration consultants. While no other fee limits exist, there are some specific practices that are prohibited:

  • 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 referrals to individuals or organizations who offer services.

Are there business requirements California immigration consultants must follow?

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.

Can a California Notary or Notary Signing Agent become an immigration consultant?

Yes. And like all other California immigration consultants, you must file an immigration consultant bond and a disclosure form with the Secretary of State.

What fees can a California Notary charge when working as an immigration consultant?

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 law does not define what a “set of forms” is. However, this appears to describe forms needed for a specific action at a particular time, though there may be other interpretations. Use caution and consider what is reasonable.

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

The law is intended to protect immigrants, and it applies to entering data into immigration forms only. The law does not set fee caps for other immigration consultant services you may offer, such as translating, securing supporting documents, and submitting completed forms.

I’ve heard that California Notaries who offer immigration services cannot advertise that they do both. Is this true?

The answer depends on whether you meet the state’s requirements as both a Notary and an immigration consultant.

  • If a California Notary is also qualified and bonded as an immigration consultant, then yes, they may advertise both services.
  • If a California Notary provides non-legal immigration services but is not qualified and bonded as an immigration consultant, they cannot advertise that they provide both services.


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