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I've Been Working Without Permission

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What if I've been working without permission? Hi, I'm Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States at our offices in St. Louis, San Diego, and Washington, D.C. coming to you live from my office. Well, not so live. It's actually recorded. But I just got done doing a Thursday afternoon Immigration Answers Show, and we had a lot of really good questions and I thought I'd shoot a few videos out of those questions. The first question was about working without authorization.

When you marry a U.S. citizen, sometimes it takes a long time for you to get your work card. Sometimes you've been in the United States for a while without status and you have worked without permission. This is, of course, a violation of your non-immigrant visa, whatever you entered on, whether it was an F1 or a B1, B2. People get concerned and wonder, how should we answer this both in completing the I-485 and at the interview. I think some people are inclined to lie about that and, of course, lying to immigration is always a bad idea.

That's not something that you want to do. You want to always be able to tell the truth. And in this instance, if you're marrying a U.S. citizen, then you should be fine. It would be forgiven. The working without permission would be forgiven if your marriage is valid and the I-130 is approved and the 45 is approved, then your work without permission would be forgiven. There's no reason not to disclose it. One other way that this comes up is people are worried, "Well, I did work without permission.

I was working for my uncle or my dad's business, or some family friend, or just someone who was nice to me and gave me a job," and they wonder is USCIS going to go investigate that employer for working. Now, this is something that a lot of clients express concern about. But in my experience, we haven't heard much about it. The fact is that very few businesses are investigated these days for hiring undocumented individuals. It does happen, but it's usually when the employer is sort of involved in it on a major scale.

I've never sort of seen any indication in an interview that the officer who's deciding whether or not this person gets a green card and who is ultimately going to be forgiving the unauthorized work is then to go and take that extra initiative to go investigate the employer. That's sort of something that you probably don't need to be worried about either. You always want to tell the truth when you're in immigration. You want to disclose you're unauthorized work.

Now, the one thing that I spend a lot of time talking to people with employment in their background is, well, how did you get that job? What did you represent yourself as? Because if you represented yourself as a U.S. citizen, that can be a real problem. Of course, that's a deportable offense, making a false claim to citizenship.

And while USCIS might not be out busting employers left and right for working without permission, they do go for people, especially who've been in the United States for a long time and have been working, they do go back and look at their I-9s to see if they checked a box claiming that they were a U.S. citizen. That's the one piece that we always sort of lead off with when there's been an undocumented or an overstayed person in the United States for a long time is, well, if you've been working, how did you work? Did you show them a fake green card?

Did you give them a fake social security number? Or worst of all, did you make a false claim to citizenship such that they thought that you were eligible to work? These are all the things that come up when there's been a person working without permission. If you have questions about this or thinking about filing for a green card, feel free to give us a call, 314-961-8200. Email us, [email protected]. Be sure to join us in our Facebook group, which is called Immigrant Home. We'd love to have you join us there.

And then make sure that you subscribe to our YouTube channel so that whenever we make videos like this one that you get updated. And then on Tuesdays and Thursdays, usually at noon Central, you'll find me in our Immigrant Home group and our Facebook page and on our YouTube channel answering as many of your immigration law related questions as I can in under one hour. Thanks a lot and have a great day.

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