Who is Vulnerable to Notario Fraud and What are Some Solutions

Notario Fraud pic

Notario Fraud
Image: americanbar.org

Christopher Stender is an immigration attorney with more than two decades of experience practicing immigration law. An active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), he served as the vice president of the organization’s Arizona chapter. Currently, Christopher Stender serves on the AILA Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee. There, he develops strategies to combat the rising problem of so-called notarios, persons fraudulently claiming to be immigration attorneys.

Immigrants originating from Latin America are particularly vulnerable to notario fraud because in many Latin American countries, a notario has authority over a number of legal matters. In the United States, however, a notario is simply a notary public rather than a licensed and trained attorney. Notarios regularly defraud immigrants and noncitizens of thousands of dollars, promising documentation, work permits, and other immigration services that never materialize. Furthermore, using a ‘notario’ may result in a person permanently losing official documents and access to certain benefits. If they misfile their case as an asylum claim, they may trigger deportation proceedings.

Many states have taken actions to prevent notario fraud, requiring notaries to undergo background checks, place security bonds, and post disclaimers on their advertisements. Furthermore, notario fraud is a misdemeanor in many states and a felony in Arizona. And in Washington, D.C., payment for immigration services can only occur after the service has been rendered.


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About Christopher Stender

After working for three years as Assistant Chief Counsel for the San Diego District of the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service, Christopher Stender launched a law partnership in 1993. Initially known as Stender & Larkin, the firm was renamed Stender & Associates, PC. Christopher Stender and his team of bilingual associates provide comprehensive immigration-related legal services, working with individuals held at Arizona’s detention centers and prisons in Eloy and Florence, as well as at California’s detention centers in El Centro, San Diego, and San Pedro. Christopher Stender assists in bond procurement and payment, visitation and hearing scheduling, and detainee transportation. He is known for taking tough cases, promoting novel legal theories, and getting positive results for his clients. He routinely appears before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, as well as the First, Fifth, and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeals and the Supreme Court of the United States. Prospective clients can read about the immigration process in both English and Spanish on his website. Christopher Stender spent his undergraduate years at the University of Würzburg, Germany, and the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. He earned his Juris Doctor in 1990 from the Syracuse University College of Law. An East Coast native who lived abroad for two years, Christopher Stender has traveled extensively throughout Europe. In addition to his native English, he speaks German and Spanish. He supports Grace Point Church, Homeless Outreach, Cesar Chavez Elementary School, Tijuana Schools Mission, and Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project. He lives with his wife and four children in San Diego.

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