Being an immigrant is extremely difficult, especially if it’s your first time in the United States. Things become even harder when you discover that you can’t work without a permit or Green Card. As a result, many immigrants find themselves tempted to work illegally for local companies in order to support their families. And so, if you find yourself in a similar situation, you might ask yourself — what happens if I worked illegally?
What is Unauthorized Employment?
Unauthorized employment is one of the most confusing topics for many immigrants, whether they are legal or not. And, without a proper understanding of the topic, you might end up breaking the law unwillingly. Therefore, it is essential that you ask for advice when making an employment decision. But to put it simply, any of the following forms of work are illegal in the United States:
Working Without a Permit: According to US law, you can’t legally work without a Work Permit. Luckily, a Green Card acts as a Work Permit too, so you don’t have to go through two validation processes to be able to work.
Working for an Illegal Employer: Employment by a company or individual without proper authorization is illegal.
Illegal Self-Employment: Running your own business on US territory without the required approval is also considered unauthorized employment.
What Happens If I Worked Illegally?
Generally speaking, if you are caught working illegally, both you and your employer will need to answer to the law. And while they risk severe fines and jail time, you may face additional legal consequences.
- Deportation: Engaging in illegal work constitutes grounds for deportation. In other words, you will have to face an immigration court, which will most likely approve your deportation.
- Ineligibility for Status Adjustment: If you are waiting for a Green Card approval, working illegally will make you ineligible for one. In fact, it doesn’t matter if you were caught before or after requesting a Green Card, as you will still lose your right to it. For instance, during the Green Card procedures, a governmental official will ask you if you have engaged in illegal work. And since lying is equal to falsification, you will have to answer honestly.
- Ineligibility to Extend Status: If you entered the country using a student or work visa, unlawful work can make you unable to extend it. Why? Because you need to obey the labor laws even if you are an immigrant.
- Inadmissibility Grounds for Future Entry: Illegal work can, and will most likely, result in the cancellation of your visa. Even worse, it can also deem you ineligible for future entries, as the record will stand against you.
What happens if I worked illegally? To put it simply, you could face a range of legal consequences, including deportation or a complete ban from entering the US. And while working illegally can seem like a good way to support your family, in the end, the cons heavily outweigh the pros. Our advice is to request a Green Card or Work Permit, as those are the only ways you can work as an immigrant.