Can I get a green card if I’ve worked without authorization?

Diversity Immigration Visa ProgramIt depends! If you are applying for a green card based on your marriage to a US citizen, then past work without authorization is not a basis of ineligibility on its own. You may have worked as a babysitter or in a restaurant, and the employers didn’t ask for any proof of work eligibility. You may have even used someone else’s documents, and in some cases, that will not make you ineligible. The big problem comes if, to get a job, you told an employer that you are a US citizen. Immigration law is completely unforgiving about someone checking off “citizen” on an I-9 form, even when immigration law seems to forgive much bigger problems. 

If you are seeking a green card based on a marriage to a lawful permanent resident, some other US citizen relative, or through work, then unauthorized work can be a problem. If you’ve worked under 180 days total, then you may be able to get the unauthorized work forgiven. 

In all cases, if you are going to apply for a green card, you must disclose your US employment for the past 5 years. Don’t omit certain jobs because you think it looks better or will make things easier. But, most important, speak with an immigration attorney about your history and eligibility for a green card before you file any application with USCIS or speak with any USCIS or other US government  agent or official about your immigration application. 


If you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of people traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well.  Call 617-676-0503 or email to get in touch.