What If I Work Illegally In The U.S. Without Work Permit?

By Published On: November 23, 2022Categories: Vlog, Immigration

”El Show Sin Fronteras”

Spanish Video Above Translated In English Below

Working In The U.S. As An Immigrant

When a person decides to emigrate to another country, they are usually looking to improve their family’s living conditions and create a better future for themselves.

To achieve this, it’s necessary to dedicate a lot of work and effort. Unfortunately, things don’t always come easy, and many immigrants find it necessary to obtain a job even though they don’t have permission to do so.

It is estimated that more than 10 million immigrants are working undocumented in the United States. This is conceived by immigration officials as a crime even though the U.S. economy benefits from it.

Hire The Services Of A Trusted Immigration Lawyer So You Can Obtain Your U.S. Work Permit

In addition, without a Work Permit, immigrants are in a vulnerable situation.

According to a New York Times article, in the city of Virginia in 2013, 9 owners of 7-Eleven stores were arrested for hiring immigrants, whom they exploited by making them work more than 100 hours a week in exchange for well below minimum wage.

Likewise, by hiring them illegally, the owners saved more than half a million dollars in taxes.

How Do I Get A Work Permit?

Work Permits are usually accompanied by an immigration application.

It is not a procedure to which only one person can apply.

It is a benefit that is linked to the application for which the person is applying, such as a Green Card.

This type of application comes with a permit, it is not an automatic benefit, so the person needs to apply but they do have that option.

When we talk about Work Permits we are not talking about Work Visas, since they are different types of immigration cases.

If a person is not going to get a Work Visa, they need to start another application where they can get their Work Permit through that arrival to the US.

What Is Considered Undocumented Work?

USCIS has a broad idea of how a person can work without authorization and undocumented.

If a person is performing a work activity or is offering their work without a Work Permit, that counts, and it doesn’t matter if it is their own business, if they are the employer or the employee, it doesn’t matter either, it’s all considered undocumented work.

It doesn’t matter if you are paid or not, what matters is that you are providing your services without authorization.

What Are The Consequences Of Working Illegally?

Normally, when an immigrant person is working without a Work Permit and there is an ICE raid, it is very likely that the officers will place those people in deportation proceedings.

If people are in a certain place, working, without documents, and also don’t have any pending immigration applications, they are going to be put in deportation proceedings, and they may be detained until they can pay a bond, and  after they get out, they can fight their deportation case.

Are There Any Consequences For Working Independently As A Contractor Without A Permit?

Find Out How To Legally Obtain A U.S. Work Permit To Avoid Deportation

Yes, it applies in the same way. People who are working in any way without a Work Permit and without authorization, even if they are self-employed, would still face the same immigration consequences.

In fact, there are immigration categories in which immigration doesn’t care if the person is working without a Work Permit, for example, the case of a person who has immediate relatives who are citizens, spouses who are citizens, children who are minors or under 21 years of age, parents of citizens.

If those people were working without a Work Permit, they can still apply for their residency because it does not influence their immigration process.

For people who are relatives of residents or who have children over 21 years of age, it could greatly influence their immigration case if they were working without a Work Permit.

If I Was An Au Pair Can I Reenter The U.S. With A Work Permit?

At Lincoln-Goldfinch Law Firm we handle cases involving the J-1 Visa cases, which are for au pairs, and that person can change their employment.

That person must wait approximately 60 days to be able to work since if they doesn’t wait that long and works anyway, it is possible that they will not be granted the Work Permit.

This is because in the eyes of immigration, the immigrant is breaking the promise and agreements that come with having that type of Visa, so it’s important to talk to and take legal advice from someone you trust who is dedicated to doing these types of J-1 Visas.

If I Have DACA, Am I At Risk Of Losing It With A Job?

The only type of work that we know of that can negatively impact your DACA program are jobs that affect DACA eligibility.

If, for example, you have a job where you need to go outside the U.S. and you don’t have Advance Parole, you may be able to apply for Advance Parole, which can affect your DACA because you cannot leave the country.

Something important to mention is that people who are under DACA or any other immigration process, should not work in any business that is involved with cannabis.  Although it is legal in some U.S. states, it is not yet federally legal, and that can cause problems for you.

These are typical cases in which many people are often adversely affected in maintaining or advancing their immigration status in the United States.

Can I Travel If I Have A Travel, Work & VAWA Permit?

It depends on the specific case of the applicant since we don’t know if it is the same immigration process for those permits and what is reflected in their cards.

If it appears on your card (Travel or Work Permit) that you can use it for travel, it can be used for more than one entry and exit into the United States.

What you should keep in mind when thinking about traveling in or out of the United States is to have a valid passport. If you don’t have a permit, see that date so that you can re-enter the country a few days or weeks before this permit expires, so that you will not have problems at the border.

Pending VAWA, U Visa, Adjustment Of Status: Can I Work Undocumented?

If the immigrant is working and haven’t yet received their Work Permit (because normally when we apply for these programs, we get the Work Permit at the same time) it usually takes about six months.

Depending on the type of immigration case for which the person is applying, is the waiting time.

For the Green Card it can take six to nine months until you receive your Work Permit, if you are working without your Work Permit during those six to nine months, it is possible that you could be placed in deportation proceedings or have such proceedings initiated.

At Lincoln-Goldfinch Law Firm we have a very good defense and we can demonstrate that the person already has a process where they will be given a Work Permit and can work with that permit.

In any case, everything will depend on whether you are an immediate relative of a citizen because if you are not a citizen and for example, your spouse is a resident, that can impact your immigration case.

You may no longer be eligible, your case may not be approved because there were violations of your Tourist Visa requirements or any other immigration case taking place within the United States.

Do I Have To Tell My Lawyer About The Legal Or Illegal Jobs I Had In The U.S.?

Yes, in fact, this is a significant part of the process, and it doesn’t matter which of your entries it was when you were working illegally.

If you have a resident spouse, they will have to count everything from your previous entries, if you were working, it also counts.

The immigration agency will say that you are not eligible to apply for U.S. residency depending on your immigration history.

Can I Work With A Student Or Tourist Visa?

With the Tourist Visa, no one can work because it is simply not part of that type of Visa. And when the person works, they are already out of that legal status that they obtained, because their Tourist Visa is automatically canceled.

In the case of the Student Visa it is possible, but a little more complex.

Frecuently, in the first year in which the immigrant is studying, they can’t work outside the campus where they are.

In the second or third year, it is already possible for the immigrant to take a job if they are given a permit.

It is possible that in certain situations, depending on your program of study, you may have options to take a job, but it is advisable to be very clear with the immigration rules, if this program has them, and if in what you study there is a type of authorization to perform some type of work.

How Does USCIS Know That An Immigrant Is Working Undocumented?

If You Are Working Legally, Find Free Legal Advice On How To Obtain Your U.S. Work Permit

Many times taxes are a way for USCIS to find out. If, for example, your employer is paying taxes for you, has your name on it, or sends you your 1099 form as an employer or a W-2.

Keep in mind that there are always records in this type of situation, there are reports that USCIS has access to.

If, for example, a person is working and the employer is not treating their employees well, they make a case for a Visa T If they do, it is possible that the feds will go to see what is going on with all the employees, so they can make sure they are giving illegal work to these people.

How Long Are Green Cards Taking to Arrive?

It depends on what type of residency application you have in place. If you are waiting for your Green Card through a residency application because you are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, your spouse, or your children are citizens, it is taking between a year and a year and a half for these cases.

Whether it is VAWA or humanitarian, those cases are taking more than two years.

In case you have additional questions about your Work Permit, Visa, or your specific case, you can contact us at (855) 502-0555. After a brief 10-minute evaluation of your case over the phone, we will let you know what options you have. You can also follow us on our social networks so you don’t miss our weekly broadcasts on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Work Permits

If a person is performing a work activity or is offering their work without a Work Permit, that counts, and it doesn’t matter if it is your own business, if you are the employer or the employee, it does not matter either, it is all considered undocumented work.

Normally, when an immigrant person is working without a Work Permit and there is an ICE raid, it is very likely that the officers will place those people in deportation proceedings.

If, for example, you have a job where you need to go outside the United States and you do not have Advance Parole, that can affect your DACA because you cannot leave the country.

About the Author: Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch

I am the managing partner of Lincoln-Goldfinch Law. Upon graduating from the University of Texas for college and law school, I received an Equal Justice Works Fellowship in 2008, completed at American Gateways. My project served the detained families seeking asylum. After my fellowship, I entered private immigration practice. My firm offers family-based immigration, such as greencards and naturalization, deportation defense, and humanitarian cases such as asylum, U Visa, and VAWA. Everyone at Lincoln-Goldfinch Law is bilingual, has a connection to our cause, and has demonstrated a history of activism for immigrants. To us, our work is not just a job. After the pandemic we began offering bankruptcy services in addition to immigration I realized how much lack of information there is in financial literacy resources in Spanish.

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