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The following text was excerpted from the brochure "Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants" published by the United States

The brochure is available in its entirety in a variety of languages at the USCIS site by
clicking here.

Finding Legal Assistance

If you need help with an immigration issue, you can use the services of a licensed and competent immigration lawyer. You can check with your local bar association for help finding a qualified lawyer.

If you need legal help on an immigration issue, but do not have enough money to hire a lawyer, there are some low-cost or free assistance options.  You can ask for help from:

* A Recognized Organization.  These are organizations that are recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).  For an organization to be "recognized", it must have enough knowledge and experience to provide services to immigrants, and can charge or accept only very small fees for those services.  For a list of BIA-recognized organizations, see
http://www.usdoj.gov/eoir/statspub/recognition
accreditationroster.pdf.

* An Accredited Representative.  These are people who are connected to BIA "recognized organizations".  These representatives can charge or accept only very small fees for their services.  For a list of these BIA-accredited representatives, see http://www.usdoj.gov/eoir/statspub/accreditedrep
roster.pdf.

* A Qualified Representative.  These are people who will provide free services.  These representatives must know about immigration law and the rules of practice in court.  Examples of qualified representatives include law school students and graduates and people with good moral character who have a personal or professional affiliation with you (relative, neighbor, clergy, co-worker, friend).

* Free Legal Service Providers.  The Office of the Chief Immigration Judge has a list of recognized free legal service providers for people who are in immigration proceedings  (see
http://www.usdoj.
gov/eoir/probono/states.htm). 
This is a list of attorneys and organizations that may be willing to represent immigrants in proceedings before the Immigration Courts.  The attorneys and organizations on this list have agreed to help immigrants pro bono (free of charge) only in immigration proceedings, so some of them may not be able to help you with non-court-related matters (that is, visa petitions, naturalization, etc.).

* Pro Bono Program.  Local list of recognized pro bono (free of charge) organizations and their representatives are usually available at each local USCIS office.

Beware of Immigration Consultant Fraud!

Many immigration practitioners are well qualified and honest and can provide good services to immigrants.  However, there are some people who take advantage of immigrants.

Before you decide to get help with immigration matters, and before you pay any money, you should do some research so you can make the right decision about what kind of legal help you need.  Protect yourself from becoming a victim of immigration fraud.

Here are some things to remember:

* No private organization or person offering help with immigration issues has a special connection with USCIS.  Ask questions of people who make promises that sound too good to be true or who claim to have a special relationship with USCIS.  Do not trust people who guarantee results or faster processing.  If you are not eligible for an immigration benefit, using an immigration lawyer or consultant will not change that.

* Some consultants, travel agencies, real estate offices, and people called "notaries public" offer immigration services.  Be sure to ask questions about their qualifications and ask to see copies of their BIA accreditation letter or bar certificate.  Some people who say they are qualified to offer legal services are not.  These people can make mistakes that cause serious problems for you.

* If you use an immigration consultant or lawyer, get a written contract.  The contract should be in English and in your own language, if English is not your native language.  The contract should list all services that will be provided to you and how much they cost.  Ask for references before you sign the contract.

* Try to avoid paying cash for services.  Make sure you get a receipt for your payment.  Be sure to keep your original documents.

* Never sign a blank form or application.  Make sure you understand what you are signing.

Get help if an immigration consultant has cheated you.  Call your state or local district attorney, consumer affairs department, or a local police department.


Fort Wayne Information related to the text above:

* Allen County Bar Association - The Allen County Bar Association can be contacted at:

924 South Calhoun Street
Fort Wayne, IN 46802
Phone: (260)423-2359
Fax: (260)423-1440
E-Mail:
acba@allencountybar.org

* Recognized Organizations - As of January 1, 2007, the BIS-recognized organizations listed in the EOIR Recognition Accreditation Roster (see link above) located in the Fort Wayne, Indiana area are:

Catholic Charities
Diocese of Fort Wayne/South Bend
315 E. Washington Blvd
Fort Wayne, IN 46802
Representative: Luz Piedad Ostragnai

Catholic Charities Diocese of South Bend
315 E. Washington Blvd
Fort Wayne, IN 46802
Representative: Monica Newcomer

La Casa of Goshen
202 North Cottage Avenue
Goshen, IN 46528
Representative: Maria Sanchez-Schirch

The nearest representatives other than those listed above are in the cities of:

Grand Rapids, MI
Dearborn, MI
Toledo, OH
Detroit, MI
Chicago, IL
Columbus, OH

* Accredited Representatives - As of January 1, 2007, The BIS-accredited representatives listed in the EOIR Accredited Representative Roster (see link above) located in the Fort Wayne, Indiana area are the same individuals listed under Recognized Organizations above.

Contingency

Please be advised that is illegal to practice immigration law on a contingency basis.  A contingency basis is when the client is only charged a fee if the case is successful.  Therefore, all fees are due whether or not a case is ultimately successful.

Right to Refuse Service

We reserve the right to refuse service to any person at any time.  We operate in an environment of mutual respect.  Any client that does not show an appropriate amount of respect to any staff member of Jerri L. Mead. P.C., may have their services terminated.


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