New Form G-28/G-28I Suggest that USCIS/USCBP Will Enforce Restrictions on Foreign Lawyer Representation
On October 1, 2009, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced that it had published a revised Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative (“Form G-28″) and a new Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney in Matters Outside the Geographical Confines of the United States (“Form G-28I”). This is significant because it now makes a clear distinction between U.S.-licensed lawyers and foreign lawyers who are not licensed in the United States.
As explained in our article on How to Choose a U.S. Immigration Lawyer, this distinction already existed under the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) regulations. However, both USCIS and United States Customs & Border Protection (“USCBP”) did not strictly enforce the regulation in the past.
According to 8 CFR 292.1(a)(6), an attorney who is not licensed in the United States but who is licensed to practice law and is in good standing in in the country in which he or she resides may act as a representative only in matters outside the geographical confines of the United States (i.e. the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and the official before whom he or she wishes to appear must allow the representation as a matter of discretion.
Since the issuance of the revised Form G-28/G-28I, it would appear that both USCBP and USCIS (both part of DHS) will now begin to restrict the ability of foreign lawyers to act as legal representatives in U.S. immigration matters. In light of this change, applicants should ensure that they retain only U.S.-licensed lawyers to represent them in U.S. immigration matters.