Skip to main content

Consequences of reporting real income to USCIS

Johnny writes, "I have been working illegally for a friend for 11 months and she has been paying me either in cash or personal checks, but mostly I have been getting paid through online transfers. I live in public housing and have not reported this income because it will raise our rent. I am currently filling out the I-765w worksheet and am unsure about what to put for income. My mom says to put zero and only disclose that I have an unpaid internship and she pays all my expenses. She is afraid that if I write an income, public housing authorities will find out and our rent will go up and she will get in trouble for not reporting this income earlier. However, I'm afraid that USCIS will look into my bank account and see the weekly money transfers between my friend's account and mine. My friend said that if I close my account before I submit my application to USCIS they will not be able to trace the payments but I'm not sure about that. I was thinking about reporting only the bank transfers/check deposits as income since those are traceable and if USCIS asks for an explanation, I would tell them I design/construct festival costumes for my friend and the money is payment for costumes I make. I don't think that would be considered illegal work and I do sew costumes and plan to start an official costume design line. Or I could report the traceable income and explain the work I do for my friend. What should I do? Not report the income at all, say my mom pays for everything, and close my bank account; or report only the traceable income?"

As you probably might have guessed, what you are planning to (and/or already are committing) do is commit fraud (it is also clear that your employer too is breaking United States laws and can be prosecuted for deliberately hiring an illegal alien and not reporting income to the IRS and SSA), not just with public housing agency but also the USCIS (you have not indicated if your mother is a legal resident and eligible for public housing but in case she isn't, she too might be engaging in criminal actions that can jeopardize her and your chances of legalizing).  I cannot advise you to do so and in any case it is naive for you and your mother to think that you will get away with it (your plans to hide the money trail are not right and clearly illegal).  In my opinion, you should honestly report all the facts because lying on your application is perjury, yet another crime and something that could further jeopardize your situation.  A lot of people have honestly reported their incomes on I-765WS and they have been approved and if you want to get DACA approved your best option is to be 100% honest, and if that means paying higher rent, it would be worth it.  After all, you already have the income.  In any case, you need to consult this with an attorney because there are so many illegal activities going on here.