Code of the District of Columbia

Chapter 53. Immigration Services Protection.


§ 28–5301. Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the term:

(1) "Client" means any noncitizen of the United States or any person seeking to sponsor a noncitizen for whom an immigration service provider performs or offers to perform an immigration service.

(2) "Immigration matter" means any legal proceeding, filing, or action that pertains to the immigration or citizenship status of a client or consumer and arises under any federal immigration law, presidential order, federal executive agency action, or proclamation by a foreign country.

(3) "Immigration service" means any service relating to an immigration matter.

(4) "Immigration service provider" means a person who provides an immigration service to a client for a fee. The term "immigration service provider" does not include:

(A) An attorney licensed to practice law in the United States;

(B) A legal clinic affiliated with an accredited law school in the District of Columbia;

(C) An individual authorized to represent individuals in immigration matters under 8 C.F.R. § 292.1; or

(D) A nonprofit organization that has been recognized under 8 C.F.R. § 292.2.

(5) "Legal representation" means the legal representation of a client, which includes providing forms to a client, completing or filing forms on behalf of a client, advising a client to file forms, or applying for a benefit on behalf of a client.


(Apr. 22, 2017, D.C. Law 21-280, § 6(c), 64 DCR 168.)


§ 28–5302. Prohibited practices; required disclosures.

(a) An immigration service provider shall not:

(1) Provide legal representation for an immigration matter;

(2) Make a misrepresentation or false statement to influence, persuade, or encourage a client to use the immigration service provider;

(3) Insinuate or make a statement that the immigration service provider can or will obtain special favors from or has special influence with the United States Department of Homeland Security, the United States Department of Labor, the United States Department of State, the United States Department of Justice, the United States Department of Commerce, or any other agency, office, or instrumentality of the United States government;

(4) Collect any fees or other compensation for an immigration service that has not yet been performed;

(5) Refuse to return documents supplied by, prepared by, or paid for by a client, at the client's request;

(6) Represent, advertise, or communicate in any manner that the immigration service provider possesses titles or credentials that would qualify the immigration service provider to provide legal representation; or

(7) Translate in any document, including an advertisement, stationery, letterhead, business card, or other comparable written material describing the immigration service provider, from English to another language, any words or titles, including "notary public", "notary", "licensed", "attorney", or "lawyer", that imply that the immigration service provider is an attorney. The translation of the phrase "notary public" into Spanish as "notario" or "notario publico" is prohibited.

(b) Each immigration service provider shall post, in English and in each language in which the immigration service provider provides or offers to provide an immigration service, at every location where the immigration service provider meets with clients, signs that shall include the name of each immigration service provider and the phrase:

"I am not an attorney licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia and may not provide legal representation. I cannot provide representation to you before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of Homeland Security, the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the Department of Labor, the Department of State, or any other immigration authority."


(Apr. 22, 2017, D.C. Law 21-280, § 6(c), 64 DCR 168.)


§ 28–5303. Contracts required.

(a)(1) Before providing an immigration service to a client, an immigration service provider shall execute a written contract with the client that includes the following information:

(A) A detailed explanation of the immigration service to be performed;

(B) An itemization of all fees to be charged to the client;

(C) Statements informing the client that the client:

(i) Has the right to consult an attorney before signing the contract;

(ii) Has the right to obtain any document provided by the client at the client's request, even in the event of a fee dispute;

(iii) Has the right to rescind the contract within 72 hours after signing; and

(iv) May report complaints relating to an immigration service provider to the Office of the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Hotline;

(D) An accurate phone number for the Office of the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Hotline;

(E) The statement, "I am not an attorney licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia and may not provide legal representation. I cannot provide representation to you before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of Homeland Security, the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the Department of Labor, the Department of State, or any other immigration authority."; and

(F) The statement, "I cannot accept a fee for referring a client to another person for a service that I cannot or will not perform."

(2)(A) The statements required by paragraph (1)(C)(iii) and (E) of this subsection shall be placed in immediate proximity to the space reserved in the contract for the client's signature and shall be in at least 12-point, boldface type.

(B) The statement required by paragraph (1)(F) of this subsection shall be conspicuously placed in the contract in at least 12-point type.

(b) The written contract required under this section shall be in English and in each language in which the immigration service provider provides or offers to provide an immigration service.

(c) The immigration service provider shall provide a copy of the contract to the client immediately upon execution.


(Apr. 22, 2017, D.C. Law 21-280, § 6(c), 64 DCR 168.)


§ 28–5304. Criminal and civil penalties.

(a) Any person who violates any provision of this chapter, shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01, or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.

(b) In addition to the criminal penalty set forth in subsection (a) of this section, failure to comply with the requirements of this chapter shall be an unlawful trade practice under § 28-3904.

(c) The penalties provided in this chapter are not exclusive and are in addition to any other penalties that may be imposed under the law.


(Apr. 22, 2017, D.C. Law 21-280, § 6(c), 64 DCR 168.)