Immigration attorney vs. notary public: Making the right choice for your immigration case

Publish Date


Post Category

There are some factors you should consider when choosing between a notary public and an attorney to assist with your immigration case. 


As an immigrant in the United States, you will need to make a lot of choices that may have a great impact on your life. Dealing with immigration law, processes, and options is not just complex, it may be overwhelming. This is why it’s vital to understand who you’re seeking advice from. 

It’s a common misconception that the role of notary publics in the United States is equivalent to their counterparts in other countries. In Latin America for example, “notarios públicos” often have legal training and are authorized to provide legal advice. This difference can lead to costly misunderstandings for immigrants in the U.S. 

A public notary in the United States serves as an official appointed by the state government to witness the signing of important documents and to administer oaths. Their primary role is to prevent fraud by verifying the identity of the individuals signing documents, ensuring that they understand the documents and are signing them willingly, without any form of duress or intimidation.  



Unlike their Latin American counterparts, U.S. notaries lack the legal knowledge to advise on immigration matters or represent individuals in immigration proceedings, or in legal matters in general. 

While requesting help from a notary public may be cheaper, it could endanger the results of your immigration process. The notary’s limited understanding of the complex immigration laws could lead to missteps in immigration applications and eventually result in delays, denials, or even deportation.

Improper guidance (no matter how well intended), can mislead immigrants into making decisions that negatively impact their lives.


All immigration cases are different, and choosing an immigration attorney ensures that you receive expert advice for your particular situation. Attorneys are capable of handling complicated legal issues, guide you through the immigration process with professional diligence, and advocate on your behalf.



Here are 5 key differences between a notary public and an immigration attorney in the U.S.:

  • Education and Licensing: Immigration attorneys undergo rigorous legal education and state bar examinations to practice law, ensuring they have a deep understanding of immigration law. This expertise is critical considering the complex and often changing landscape of immigration policies, where errors can lead to significant consequences. Notaries public do not require such extensive legal education. 
  • Legal Advice: Immigration attorneys can provide legal advice and represent clients in court. Notaries are not legally authorized to offer legal advice or representation. This distinction is crucial.   
  • Scope of Work: Immigration attorneys handle a broad range of issues. This comprehensive approach means they can assist with any legal challenges that arise during the immigration process, offering solutions notaries public cannot. Notaries public have a very limited role, primarily witnessing the signing of documents. 
  • Ethical Standards and Accountability: Attorneys are bound by strict ethical rules and can be held accountable by state bar associations. This accountability ensures a higher level of professionalism and trustworthiness in handling sensitive immigration matters. Notaries public have guidelines, but these are not as comprehensive. 
  • Fiduciary Duty: The attorney-client relationship includes a fiduciary duty, meaning attorneys must act in the best interest of their clients. This commitment provides an added layer of security and confidence for immigrants, knowing their case is being handled with their best interests at heart. Notary publics do not have a fiduciary relationship with those whose documents they notarize. 


If you find yourself unable to obtain help from an immigration lawyer, consider consulting organizations dedicated to assisting immigrants. 


Your journey deserves the best possible guidance, and an immigration attorney provides the expertise and support needed to provide an appropriate service. 


We would love to hear about your personal immigration story. At Armstrong Legal, our goal is to obtain the best possible outcome for your immigration case.  We will guide you through each step with expertise and care, ensuring your decisions are informed, your rights protected, and your path forward clear.  

Our office is in Dallas, Texas, but we also offer telephone and virtual consultations.

Call us at (469) 844-0020 and schedule a consultation.