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Can illegal immigrants do unpaid internships?

Boston, MA |

I was brought to this country legally by my parents when I was ten. We came here on a tourist visa. We stayed and now I'm considered an illegal immigrant. I just completed my first semester of college. I'm curious to know if I would be able do an unpaid internship. I need to acquire some job experience and I can't get it though a paid one. Do unpaid internships require you to show a social security number? Do they do background checks?

Attorney Answers 3


Immigration takes the position that unpaid internships are employment, therefore it is not permitted. The one exception is if you are doing true volunteer work such as changing bedpans at a hospital or serving food at a soup kitchen.

If you are in the US without permission or your status is expired, i would not advise working at all, paid or unpaid

Note: The below answer is provided for informational use only. One should not act or refrain to act solely based on the information provided. No attorney/client relationship is created unless an Agreement is signed by the attorney and the client. Best regards, Neil Neil I Fleischer The Fleischer Law Firm, LLC 917 Main Street Cincinnati, Ohio 45202-1314 Direct telephone: 513 977 4209 Enjoy our Blog at

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Technically illegal immigrants can't do any internships--paid or not--because they are not allowed to be in the country.

Moreover, any position involving employment verification (which often takes place even for unpaid positions, especially at larger companies) carries some risk of discovery and, potentially, deportation.

Do you want accurate, personalized, legal advice that you can rely on? You will have to hire an attorney, not ask on Avvo. I am not your attorney and am not creating an attorney-client relationship by this post. I am therefore giving only general advice. This advice may not apply to you or your situation; may not take account of all possibilities, and may not match the advice I would give to a client. DO NOT rely on this advice or any other advice on Avvo to make your legal decisions. If you want an answer to a legal question you should retain an attorney who is licensed in your state.

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4 lawyers agree


I agree with both of my colleagues.

The answer provided is general in nature and should not be construed as legal advice as not all facts are know by the attorney, nor does the answering of this question create an attorney client relationship.

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