I am undocumented, but my neighbor told me that I can apply for a work permit; is this true?

NEWSLETTER – July 2017


Written By Attorney Sergio A. Perez of the Franco Law Group, APLC.


I am undocumented, but my neighbor told me that I can apply for a work permit; is this true?


There are many misconceptions in the immigrant community regarding immigration law, and in particular the law regarding employment authorization, or work permits.  Unfortunately, these misconceptions are widespread and are often perpetuated by well-intentioned friends and family.  However, one must never take any action regarding one’s immigration status based solely on rumors or information given by a friend or relative, unless, of course, that individual is a qualified immigration attorney.  Indeed, in the Trump era immigrants must be especially careful when applying for any immigration benefit.

As practitioners of immigration law, the attorneys of the Franco Law Group, APLC have heard a wide variety of misconceptions from clients regarding work permits.  These misconceptions include:

  • My neighbor got a work permit, so that means that I can, too;
  • If I turn myself in to immigration authorities, they will give me a work permit; and
  • I can get a work permit after living in the United States for 10 years.

A key fact regarding the first misconception listed is that every case is different.  Even though your neighbor qualified for a work permit, the facts of your case will likely differ and must be analyzed in order to determine if you are, in fact, eligible to receive employment authorization.  Second, immigration authorities will not give an immigrant a work permit if she turns herself in.  What will likely happen is that the immigrant will be detained by the immigration authorities, processed and placed in removal proceedings before the immigration court.  Some immigrants may qualify for a work permit after being placed in removal proceedings, but not because they turned themselves in.  Rather, an immigrant may become eligible for employment authorization because of the type of relief she is seeking from the immigration court, and because of the specific facts of her case.  However, if an immigrant has a pre-existing removal or deportation order when she turns herself in, the immigration authorities will likely enforce that order and the immigrant will be removed from the United States shortly after turning herself in.

Another key fact to know about employment authorization is that it is not a stand-alone immigration benefit.  Rather, employment authorization is a benefit that is tied to some other underlying immigration relief, such as some asylum applications, Temporary Protected Status, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or for certain immigrants who are under an order of supervision issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  As such, an immigrant cannot only apply for a work permit without there being another underlying status or form of relief that makes that person eligible for employment authorization.  Consequently, the length of time a person has lived in the United States, the last misconception listed above, by itself, does not make a person eligible to receive employment authorization.

Unfortunately, there is no shortage of unscrupulous attorneys and notarios who take advantage of the widespread misconceptions that exist in the immigrant community regarding work permits.  Further, the consequences for submitting a meritless employment authorization application can be serious and can include the denial of the application and the immigrant being detained and placed in removal proceedings.  For these reasons, immigrants should consult with a reputable and qualified immigration attorney prior to applying for employment authorization, or any other immigration benefit, to determine if he, in fact, qualifies for that benefit.

The attorneys of the Franco Law Group, APLC are available to provide you with a consultation.  Please contact our office to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys at (213) 200-1505.

Scroll to Top