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I worked unauthorized in the U.S. Can I adjust my status if I married a U.S. citizen?

By July 2, 2020March 16th, 2021Family Immigration, Immigration
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Let’s analyze the following scenario: You are currently in the U.S. on a non-immigrant visa (e.g. F-1 visa) and you are planning to file an Adjustment of Status application. In the past, while you were in the U.S. on F-1 visa, you worked in a local restaurant as a waiter without a proper work authorization. You now married a U.S. citizen and you want to file a green card application and you may be wondering if you can adjust your status if you previously worked unauthorized.

The short answer is yes. The spouses of U.S. citizens are not barred from adjusting status in the following scenarios:

  • If you continue working without proper work authorization before you file the Adjustment of Status application
  • If you accepted unauthorized employment prior to filing an Adjustment of Status application
  • If you accept employment after you file the Adjustment of Status application without proper work authorization

Please note that this exception applies only to immediate relatives of U.S. citizens.

What is an unauthorized employment?

Unauthorized employment is any service or labor performed for an employer within the United States by an alien who is not authorized by the immigration regulations/USCIS  to accept employment or who exceeds the scope or period of the alien’s employment authorization.

Please note that even though the bar to adjust your status does not apply to you, it is still extremely important to answer the questions on the I-485 form truthfully in case you ever worked without authorization as you are signing the I-485 form under penalty of perjury.

Please click here to read our blog post on how to maintain your green card.

Please click here to find out what are the requirements to become a U.S. citizen.

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