I'm beginning the IR-1 process - I am the beneficiary, my spouse is the USC petitioner, and will be applying for the visa via consular processing.
Over 20 years ago, I was a college student in the US, applied for Optional Practical Training and received an Employment Authorization Document from the INS. I remained for a few months after graduation (certainly no longer than 180 days for what that is worth) and did a month or two of OPT, plus some travelling, before leaving the US permanently. That much I recall. But my records from those days are long gone, and I have it at the back of my mind that possibly my EAD had expired by the time I did OPT. I had already done OPT the prior summer and now looking at the legislation back then it's unclear whether they would have granted more than 12 months of EAD. I certainly wouldn't have knowingly tried to work in violation of status, and I'm pretty sure I followed the guidelines my colleague provided and would have checked to see that my documents would have been valid, and I think the employer went through my papers at the time and I have no reason to believe I wasn't open about this when discussing at the border. But it's a lingering doubt, and I can't be SURE I didn't. It's never come up w US authorities, I have visited the US many many times since then (no visa, as Canadian citizen) with no questions asked, and have never been in any sort of proceedings etc. Honestly hadn't even thought about it until starting this process now.
Reading through the many helpful posts on this board, I understand that unauthorized employment is unlikely to be an obstacle to getting IR-1 but I want to be completely honest in the process of course. Answering "no" to the question of whether I have ever been in violation of a US visa is not to my mind a wilful misrepresentation, as I don't think that I have, but there is still that lingering doubt in my mind. Answering "yes" seems like a "safer" answer if they do find something in their checks, but wouldn't it be a misrepresentation if it turns out I hadn't committed a violation? Another option I've considered is to FOIA all of my immigration documents to be sure. This was in the INS days, before the days of Homeland Security / USCIS, etc. Any advice welcomed.
(And if you have time for a secondary question, I had a SSN issued at that time, and presumably an Alien number on my EAD - I still know my SSN from the time, which I presume is still my SSN, but lost the EAD card decades ago, so how should I respond to those questions?)