SACRAMENTO, Ca., – Jan. 31, 2013 – Better Business Bureau warns consumers to research immigration consultants before pursuing services after four consumers tell BBB an unregistered immigration consultant without a bond failed to complete paid-for services.
A Tracy man tells BBB that after paying over $800 to Albert A Villela, Immigration Consultant
, he was told his paperwork had been lost. “Villela instructed me to get a second set of photos. After I got the photos, he would not file the paperwork,” said the consumer. “I want my money refunded so that I can go elsewhere and get my citizenship paperwork filed to become a U.S. citizen.”
A Las Vegas woman and Modesto man both tell similar stories in which, after paying for services upfront, their paperwork was never filed. “I demanded my money back, but he just threatened to call the police on me if I didn’t leave,” said the Modesto man.
BBB found addresses for the company in two locations in Redwood City and one location in Tracy. Neither the company, nor the individual have business licenses in either city.
The company represents itself as bonded via a business card. However, Better Business Bureau has been unable to locate a current bond for Villela or any company name affiliated with Villela through the California Secretary of State’s Office
As of January 31, 2013, the company has not responded to requests for more information. Albert A Villela, Immigration Consultant
currently has an “F” rating with BBB for failing to respond to four complaints filed against the business and for not obtaining required bonding through the State of California.
“Using someone who is bonded for immigration work instills extra insurance that your paperwork will be filed, or if it isn’t, that you have recourse to acquire a refund,” said Gary Almond, president of BBB serving northeast California. “Before you do business with anyone, check them out with Better Business Bureau and the appropriate state agencies.”
BBB advises consumers in need of immigration services to consider the following tips:
If the person offering services claims to be an attorney, verify their licensing with the State Bar of California
If you cannot afford an attorney, check with the Board of Immigration Appeals
for attorneys who provide immigration services for free or at very little cost.
If you are seeking assistance through an immigration consultant, ensure they are registered with the California Secretary of State’s Office
and that they have posted the required $50,000 bond.
• Be aware that an immigration consultant cannot provide legal advice.
• When agreeing to services with an immigration consultant, get a written contract that includes all services to be performed, full contact information for the consultant, and the amount to be paid.
• The contract must be written in both English and your native language.
• A 72-hour right to cancel exists. If you wish to cancel, submit a cancellation request in writing.
• Make sure to get all original copies of documents returned.
• Never sign an incomplete or incorrect form. If something is incorrect, the applicant is held liable, not the document preparer.
• Never pay for a blank government form. Government forms are free, though there is a charge associated with submitting the forms.
Media: Local consumers available for interview. For contact information, contact Cailin Peterson at 916-307-4199.
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