Apply for DACA if already working with my own SSN

Natalia writes, "I would like to apply for DACA, however, I worked using my social security # that was issued to me that states "valid for work only with ins authorization."  I came to the US when I was 13 years old. Went to HS for 4 years and graduated. I then enrolled and graduated from a vocational nursing school, got a student loan to pay for it, and still paying for it. Nowadays, I work as a nurse using my own social security # and file my income taxes yearly. Furthermore, I am still going to a community college, in order to finish my studies and hopefully to obtain my nursing degree.  I would like to ask for your advice, because I make an annual income of $40k/year and would like to know if I might come across some dilemma working with my SS# with restrictions on employment."

It is obvious that you have a huge paper trail of working illegally, a fairly serious crime.  The fact is that many other DREAMers are also working illegally, but in their cases they are using fraudulent Social Security numbers and some of them have engaged in outright identity theft, which are even more serious crimes.  Most of these individuals have been approved for DACA despite many of them making as much money, if not more, as you do.

So my expectation is that if you apply, you will be approved as long as you are otherwise eligible and provide all the requested evidence.  Strictly legally speaking, though, as you might understand, as it is you have created a huge paper trail of illegal employment (by filing taxes, by fraudulently claiming a right to work on Form I-9, and I am not sure if you ever claimed to be a US citizen in order to work or get student loans which are typically not given to undocumented immigrants and that would be a very serious crime and can completely destroy your chances of ever legalizing in this country even if comprehensive immigration reform passes), so filing for DACA will not make your situation any worse.  The Government already knows that you are working without authorization and does not need any more evidence to charge you for fraud, so by applying for DACA, you might actually do some good for yourself by preparing for RPI visa.

You see applying for DACA comes with certain risks since it is not US law yet.  In case immigration law is not changed and crimes like yours are not forgiven, a DACA application will come to bite people who apply.  While it seems unlikely that the Government will go after you for just this crime, many immigrants have been caught in routine workplace audits by ICE, and others who were caught for smaller crimes like driving without a license or having a broken tail light in their car or whatever law they break, these actions will then be combined to build a deportation case against them.

Help to get DACA in New York City

While the overall number of DACA applicants has been disappointingly low, other programs designed to help DREAMers have also failed.  Immigrant advocates have been scratching their heads wondering where are the two millions that they had hoped would take advantage of Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals, which not only grants a reprieve from deportation for two years (and renewable after that, at least as long as a Democrat keeps winning the White House after 2016) but also provides a work permit and valid Social Security number.  The DACA approved DREAMers also qualify automatically for RPI visa after Comprehensive Immigration Reform becomes law.  While life after DACA is not a cakewalk (the job market is tight for everyone), many DREAMers are finding employment, buying cars, traveling on planes, driving cars -- all legally.


Now the City of New York is hoping that by helping other unqualified DREAMers (who meet all requirements but lack a high school diploma and are currently not enrolled in GED), they can increase the number of DACA recipients.  The State will spend taxpayer dollars ($18 million) to provide free adult education classes to undocumented immigrants so that they can claim to be enrolled in GED and apply for DACA.

Use AP to fix EWI situation

DREAMers who entered the United States without inspection (EWI) are (in the absence of an amnesty that would forgive that crime) cannot adjust their status in the United States even if they are otherwise eligible to do so, for example, by virtue of marriage to a US citizen.  They will need to undergo consular processing with the risk that they me barred from entering the United States for a number of years depending on the time spent under unlawful status in the country.  Under very special circumstances, they can ask for a waiver of that ban by filing USCIS Form I601A and then wait only for days/weeks in their native countries, but this privilege is only available if they can demonstrate that undue hardship will be caused to their citizen family members.

It turns out that some DACA approved DREAMers are exploiting a loophole in the law to erase the entry without inspection mark on their immigration history.  This is how they are successful in doing it:

  1. Fabricate an excuse to travel overseas for humanitarian reasons (e.g. it is common in most poor countries to bribe medical professionals to furnish fake medical documents for a sick individual, even if the person never existed or has been dead for decades, apparently sick grandparents are popular relatives).
  2. File for advanced parole (USCIS Form I-131).
  3. After approval travel abroad.
  4. Enter the US legally at a border checkpoint (airport or land crossing), present a valid passport, AP paperwork, and be legally admitted to the US (a valid I-94 is now available).
  5. File for adjustment of status within the US
So is this process worthwhile?  Yes, but only for those who can adjust their status in the US by virtue of marriage or whatever other privilege you have.  An advanced parole approval is not guaranteed to everyone who applies (while there is no penalty for rejection if the USCIS suspects that you are engaging in fraud or your case is not genuine, the rejection will stay on your immigration record and can be a factor in future immigration decisions  -- it should not affect your DACA directly) and you are also not guaranteed reentry into the US.  You may actually be turned away at the airport and a bar maybe imposed upon you.  This is a huge risk and that is why many legal experts have been recommending DREAMers to not leave the country.

If you still wish to proceed, get your paperwork before leaving (while you will not need the AP documents to leave the US, if you leave without an approval in hand, and then find out overseas that your application is denied, you will not be able to return), have a valid passport with you before leaving (you will need it to enter your country if flying, unless it is Mexico where you can simply cross the border) because you will need it to enter the US and your passport will then be stamped by the border agent, and then come back within the time indicated on the AP.  At the origin airport, you will be cleared to leave if you have a valid passport and AP paperwork.  While clearing immigration in the US, be prepared for questioning by the agent.