First and foremost, you should be honest with your attorney and USICS about having worked without authorization. If you lie, and immigration finds out that you have worked without authorization, you could possibly face the misrepresentation ground of inadmissibly.

What is Working Without Authorization?

How to Calculate Periods of Unauthorized Employment?

  • Count periods of unemployment since your last entry (not periods of unemployment from previous visits). Although an ‘entry’ pursuant to advance parole does not re-start the clock.
  • Periods of unauthorized employment are counted as the time in which an ‘employer-employee’ relationship exists. Due to this, one must include weekends, holidays, and days off in the calculation. For example, if you were employed from January 1-June 30, that would count as 180 days, even if you only worked four days per week.
  • Count days in which you worked without authorization. Start with the day the unauthorized employment began, through one of the following:
  • Day the unauthorized employment ends;
  • Date employment authorization is approved; or
  • The date an application for adjustment of status is approved.
  • If you are authorized to work for one company, but you quit that job and begin working for another company, without filing for a change of employer, that would be engaging in unauthorized employment.
  • Volunteering is not classified as ‘unauthorized employment;’ however, it is possible to engage in unauthorized employment even if it is unpaid.

Why Does Working Without Authorization Matter?

If you’ve worked without authorization, you are probably wondering why it matters and how it could affect your immigration case. It depends on the type of benefit sought.

Asylum: Applicants for asylum do not accrue unlawful presence while they have a ‘bona fide’ asylum application pending. Under INA §212(a)(9)(B)(iii)(II), if an applicant for asylum works without authorization while their application for asylum is pending, they will accrue unlawful presence.

Green Card: Generally speaking, working without authorization will make you ineligible for adjustment of status unless you fall into one of the following categories: VAWA applicants, immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, ‘special immigrant juveniles,’ and certain members of the U.S. armed forces.

Employment-Based Green Card Applications: Applicants for employment-based green cards will be ineligible for adjustment of status if they’ve engaged in more than 180 days of unauthorized employment in the aggregate.

Non-Immigrant Visa: Working while on a non-immigrant visa, that doesn’t allow for working, can have severe consequences. Retrospectively, an immigration official could determine that you fell out of lawful immigration status on the day you began working without permission. Additionally, your visa could be canceled, and you could be denied entry next time you present yourself for inspection.

Can I Still Get a Green Card if I Have Worked Without Authorization?

It depends on whether your case is family-based or employment-based.


If your application is based on an immediate relative relationship, unauthorized employment will not affect your case.


If your application is employment-based, unauthorized employment of 180 days or less will not affect your case.

Can I Work While My Adjustment of Status Application is Pending?

Filing for adjustment of status does not automatically confer authorization to work. In filing for adjustment of status, an individual may also apply for work authorization. An applicant for adjustment of status can work under two conditions:

  1. If they already have work authorization from a separate non-immigrant visa (O, H1B, P, L, etc…), OR
  1. Once their application for work authorization is approved (pursuant to their adjustment application). An applicant for work authorization cannot work while their application for work authorization is pending unless #1 applies to them.

If you have worked without authorization, please contact an immigration attorney who is trustworthy and knowledgeable! Our attorneys at Landerholm Immigration, APC, are experienced in cases involving unauthorized work, adjustment of status, and grounds of inadmissibly. Please feel free to call us at (510) 491-0291 to see how we can help!