The Truth Behind Work Permits for Immigrants

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The risks that undocumented workers take

Imagine that you are working hard everyday to provide for your family. You’ve come to the land of opportunity, you make a home, create a life, your kids are born here in the US, but there is one thing holding you back: you do not have legal documentation to be in the US.

Many families do not have to imagine this scenario, it is a facet of life that they deal with on a daily basis, but despite the constant advice of “just go get your papers and reside in this country legally”, things are not the simple. Sometimes, trying to do things legally can be perilous for immigrants, such as trying to get a work permit to earn a living legally and pay taxes. 

What is a work permit?

For many hardworking immigrants, obtaining “legal” status is not an easy feat. It is a process that could take years, even decades.  While they wait for an opportunity to become legal, many immigrants opt to requests a work permit. It is a way for them to be able to work in the United States, legally.  A work permit grants foreign nationals permission to work in the United States.  While getting a permit does not ensure your residency or citizenship to the country it can help the process. But for some, it can spell disaster.

How can applying for a work permit become potentially counterproductive?

As a part of obtaining a work permit, individuals must go through a process of meeting with Immigration officials.  Every so often one has appointments that they must go to in order to maintain status, but if you are undocumented, these appointments could possibly turn into the first step toward deportation. In other words, obtaining a work permit could put immigrants through deportation proceedings.  In fact, several stories have come up in recent news involving people with work permits, going to routine appointments and suddenly being separated from their families as a result. Many families have been separated from loved ones, kids left without their parents. Virgüez & Associates Attorney Luis Virgüez was recently interviewed by reporter Carlos Moreno with Mundo Hispanico for a Spanish language news story featuring a family that was separated just like this. The family went to another immigration law firm in Atlanta that suggested the husband get a work permit. But the husband was deported a few months later during a routine immigration appointment. This resulted in the separation of the family. Attorney Virgüez has since been attempting to help reconcile the family against all odds. (you can read this and other stories that attorney Virgüez has commented on as a subject matter expert here. 

What can I do to improve my situation?

The best course of action, would be to meet with a lawyer who specializes in immigration, come up with an action plan to help you get what you and your family needs. While getting a work permit may be a valid option, it is important to work with an attorney that can help you weight the benefits. 

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