Risks and rewards of applying in a fake SSN situation

Mira writes, "I am 22 and have lived in the US pretty much all my life illegally but I have only worked once for about 4 months. My attorney told me that if I have not been caught with it or had any problems with it that I shouldn't write down the fake social security number I used. I asked him if in the background check it would pop up that I have worked because I did use my real name and he said no. But I'm still feeling hesitant because like you have said over and over the government has a lot of sophisticated technology and I wouldn't want to jeopardize my case. So I don't know what to do."

USCIS is not perfect in its investigation:  You have genuine reasons to be afraid. I agree with your attorney that a job for just four months may never show up in the investigation by USCIS.  Or no one may bother to check.  As far as technology is concerned, yes, it is very sophisticated, but a lot of the times it is not used because government employees are too busy or lazy or careless or have deadlines.  It also depends on what kind of a paper trail your job created.  One could have worked for years doing the same and there maybe no paper trail in government computers, and on the other hand, you could simply get paid one dollar by a company, and the next thing you know the paper trail is all over and will never be deleted because of all the cheap memory available these days.  Depending on the company that you worked for, when you started work there, the information is entered into so many places and a lot of these details are eventually submitted to both federal and state agencies (e.g. all new hires are reported to both IRS and state, then the company pays social security and Medicare taxes, deducts income taxes and pays it to IRS and state, makes a deposit for unemployment insurance, etc.).

Being caught lying is a criminal offense and has consequences:  Now if you did not write down in your application the fake SSN you used, probability is very high that you would be approved and nothing will happen because your violation is minor compared to millions of illegal immigrants who have been going on with their lives with fake or forged documents and some have even stolen identities of legal residents and citizens.  Unfortunately, by not providing that information about the SSN you used to work when specifically asked by the USCIS, you would have lied to the US Government.  So if you were ever caught for this, not only would you be penalized for working without authorization, you will also be charged with perjury, something that is more seriously seen by both courts and prosecutors.  It could very well mean that apart from being charged with crimes, you could be deported, and barred from entering the country and receiving immigration benefits, either for some period of time or even forever.

Only a waiver by Congress can erase your crimes to receive immigration benefits:  Your attorney is probably thinking that you should take the risk, but I want you to weigh both the risks and the benefits.  You see, if you get approved all you will get is a work permit for two years.  Maybe a driver's license is valuable to you or you are in a state that you can get in-state tuition, but your situation is still going to be murky.  On the other hand, if you get caught, your dream is basically over.  In my opinion, your risks are much higher than the rewards.  The solution is to wait for several months, see if Obama gets reelected and there is more clarity on what will happen with immigration reform (unless Congress specifically forgives working without papers in the law that would be passed, individuals like you may not benefit from it), and then find out how other cases are being processed (I have heard from applicants who have worked illegally for years and they are happily submitting their applications along with even their W-2 forms using fake SS#).  If USCIS is going to look the other way, you can then apply; if not, you would have spared yourself a lot of headache.  I would be very surprised that USCIS is not aware of this (it is common knowledge that illegal immigrants are going on with their lives with fake documents) and does not have a plan to deal with it.