Undocumented students possess unique strengths and face unique challenges in their career journeys. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you must have an employment authorization document (EAD) in addition to a social security number (SSN) to work legally. The only policy that grants these two documents to undocumented immigrants is DACA status. This page includes resources and tips for gaining work experience and other career-related experiences. For more information about job opportunities for Guttman students, please visit Center for Career Preparation and Partnerships (CCPP).
The best way to gain work experience is through a paid or unpaid internship, or a job.
DACA students with work authorization:
- Can obtain a renewable two-year Employment Authorization Document that allows them to work
- Can be hired same as any US Citizen
- Do not have to be sponsored
- Do not have to disclose their status
- Not permitted to work after your EAD expires
- Not eligible for federal work-study opportunities
- Can work in an unpaid internship, free-lance, or participate in a worker cooperative.
- Still have a responsibility to pay taxes and must request an ITIN from the IRS.
An ITIN is required for tax purposes and can be obtained by any individual who is not eligible for a Social Security Number (SSN). It will allow you to report your earning to the IRS and open a bank account (with another form of identification) It will not change your immigration status or your authorization to work in the United States.
Access this Immigrants-Rising ITIN-Guide to learn about how to obtain an ITIN.
It can be confusing and stressful to decide when and with whom to share your status. Throughout the job search and hiring process it is important to provide information that is true and authentic, however, you ultimately get to decide whether or not to share your status. Once hired, employers should not ask you about how you received your work permit.
You may decide to share your status with an organization early in the hiring process or in an interview if you feel comfortable doing so, and to start a discussion about how to move forward in the process. It is important to consider who you would want to disclose to (sharing with a recruiter vs. a supervisor) and in what manner (disclosing in a personal statement for grad school vs. in an interview).
Watch a video on whether to disclose or not disclose DACA/TPS Status featuring two Alumni from theDream.US Team sharing their personal reasons they choose to disclose or not disclose their DACA and TPS status when applying for jobs.
Entrepreneurship is a great career option for undocumented students. Did you know there are over 823,000 undocumented entrepreneurs? *Source: New American Economy
ITINS or EINS are used to legally earn income so long as taxes are filed and paid
- Basic Facts about Entrepreneurship – IMMIGRANTS RISING
- Independent Contractor Brainstorming Worksheet – IMMIGRANTS RISING
- Training and Support for Freelancers
- A business structured as an LLC
- Members own and manage the co-op (invest in the business and vote in decision making)
- Operate according to a set of principles
- Worker Cooperative Resource:
- Support educational and professional development of students regardless of work authorization
- Provides stipend or scholarship to aid pursuit of study or research
- Can be sponsored by colleges, non-profits, etc.
- Fellowship Resources:
Starting your Own Business
The Navigating Graduate School: Resource Guide for Undocumented Students: The legal and practical concerns of undocumented students who are contemplating or currently pursuing a graduate school education:
My (Un)Documented Life: A blog with tips on applying to graduate school as an undocumented student:
- Alternative Income and Career Options for Undocumented Students: Video resource created by the President’s Alliance on Higher Education and Administration, Immigrants Rising Democracy at Work Institute, and the Dream.US
- Life after College: A Guide for Undocumented Students: A Guide created by Immigrants Rising
- DACA-Friendly Employers A list taken from a survey by the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California. These organizations noted they are interested in hiring DACA student
- DACA and Workplace Rights: Created by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), one of the leading organizations in the U.S. exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of immigrants with low income.
- Teach For America: How DACA students can apply for Teach for America.