Don’t Lie to USCIS About Unauthorized Employment

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Should I lie to USCIS about unauthorized work? 

You know, the I-485, the Green Card Application has gotten a lot more complicated, a lot more detailed and one of the changes that went into effect about a year ago is now they ask explicitly on the form, “Have you ever worked without authorization? Have you ever violated the terms of your Nonimmigrant Visa status. And so, this causes a lot of our clients some nervousness, some consternation, some problems, some headaches, some heartaches and they wonder, “Jim, should we go ahead and admit that we worked without authorization?” Now, if they’re going through the adjustment of status process based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, then they absolutely should admit having worked without authorization. You should always tell the truth to immigration and you can get in a lot more trouble for not telling the truth than you would get in trouble for actually having worked.

A lot of our clients worry that they’re going to get in trouble for it, and obviously you should always only work with authorization, but if in the past you’ve worked without authorization and you’re being asked by an immigration officer, you should almost always tell the truth. You should never lie about it, there’s really no good reason to not be honest about it. If you are adjusting through marriage then that unauthorized work is going to be forgiven.

So we always tell our clients to make sure that they tell the truth when asked this question. We had a situation recently where a client was particularly nervous about this question. He’d worked for a few months before he got his work card, and he was very anxious about it. So, the officer … Actually, before he went into the interview he was asking me, “What should I do?” I said, “You have to tell the truth, just tell the truth.” “The truth shall set you free,” as Dr. King said. So, when the interview occurred, the officer asked him, “Did you ever work without authorization?” And he sort of hemmed and hawed, and the officer said, “Let me go out on a limb. I’m saying that you did work without authorization because you had worked at this gas station before you went ahead and applied for a work card and received your work card.” So the client hadn’t exactly understood what the officer was saying and he clarified his answer and said yes, he had worked without authorization, and because he’s married to a U.S. citizen, that should be forgiven.

So that’s one thing to keep in mind, you always want to tell the truth, especially about work. If you work without authorization, that’s not something you should do, but it’s not a deportable offense in and of itself if you’re adjusting status through marriage. So, if you have a situation where you’re applying for an immigration benefit and you have worked without authorization, I strongly suggest that you use an experienced immigration lawyer to file that for you. It’s probably not a se of answers or questions that you want to go into alone. You’re probably going to want someone who can explain to the officer what exactly happened and make sure everything is smoothed over.

We hope that makes sense. If you have any questions about a prior work without authorization, or is you’re worried abour how to answer particular questions, you should always give us a call. We would happy to help you, represent you, and get you through this complicated process, which is becoming harder and more difficult every day.

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