March 15, 2004 Regular News UPL Update UPL in immigation matters Jacquelyn P. Needelman Bar UPL Counsel, Miami What constitutes the unlicensed practice of law in immigration matters?In the area of immigration, the only assistance that a nonlawyer can provide to another person is to sell forms and/or type information provided to him or her in writing. See The Florida Bar v. Brumbaugh, 355 So. 2d 1186 (Fla. 1978), and The Florida Bar v. Matus, 528 So. 2d 895 (Fla. 1988).This means that if a customer completes an immigration form in writing, the nonlawyer can then type it verbatim. He or she cannot recommend any changes and cannot recommend what relief be sought. The nonlawyer cannot provide any advice or legal assistance. Also, it is misleading if the nonlawyer calls him or herself a consultant as this implies that he or she is authorized to consult. See The Florida Bar v. Catarcio, 709 So. 2d 96 (Fla. 1998). A nonlawyer cannot consult with or discuss a legal matter verbally. See Brumbaugh. Great public harm has occurred to persons who have gone to a nonlawyer for immigration assistance. What is or is not placed on immigration forms is very important, affects significant legal rights, and has led to the deportation of immigrants.The Florida Bar has one local circuit committee whose only charge is to investigate unlicensed practice of law in immigration matters. This committee is located in Dade County. Circuit committees located in other judicial circuits investigate these types of cases as well. Investigation involving unlicensed practice of law in immigration matters has resulted in recommendations for referrals for criminal prosecution as the unlicensed practice of law is a crime, the filing of petitions for permanent injunctions, and the signing of cease and desist affidavits.The Bar has also assisted in a federal prosecution where an individual is now serving a long prison sentence for taking advantage of immigrants.