Navigating the Hiring Process as a DACAmented Job Seeker

The process of searching for employment and going through the hiring process can be challenging for any job seeker, but can be especially so for those who have received DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Understanding your rights and what to expect can help prepare you for navigating the next step in your career.

When beginning your job search, I recommend:

  1. If you can, talk to other DREAMers who have already gone through the process. They may already know of DACA-friendly employers and have tips on how to get connected with them. It can also be helpful to hear about the experiences of those who have successfully navigated the process.
  2. Conduct your own search of DACA-friendly employers. Some companies are actively seeking to hire candidates with DACA status and have spoken out to advocate for employment opportunities for DACA holders. They may indicate their support of DACAmented candidates on their company website and encourage them to apply. Other employers may know little or nothing about the regulations for hiring students/alumni with DACA, which may make the process trickier to navigate. TheDream.US has an Employment Guide that offers guidance on the ins and outs of work eligibility for DACA holders.

Once you have applied for a job and are diving deeper through the interview and hiring process, it is important to know what an employer can/cannot ask for in regards to work eligibility and documentation.

  • Employers can: Ask whether an employee is legally allowed to work.
  • Employers cannot: Ask an employee’s immigration status, including whether or not they have DACA. It is up to the employee as to whether or not they choose to disclose their DACA status to an employer. Additionally, employers cannot deny employment to a candidate simply because of their DACA status.
  • Employers can: Ask for documentation to verify employment eligibility. Upon gaining employment, employers will require employees to fill out an I-9 form and show supporting documentation that verifies eligibility to work. For those who have received DACA, this requirement will be satisfied by showing an employment authorization document (EAD). The EAD is valid for two years and is renewable. DACA holders with a valid EAD do not require employer sponsorship.
  • Employers cannot: Ask employees to furnish additional or different documents for the I-9 form. The employer must accept the valid form of documentation that the employee chooses. If the provided document expires, the employer must provide reasonable time for the employee to provide another valid form of documentation which can be either a renewed or alternate item.

Hiring DACAmented candidates is a benefit to employers because they contribute immensely valuable multi-cultural and diverse perspectives to the workplace. Resources are available to help provide further understanding about your DACA status and the ability to obtain employment. Check out the resources available through TheDream.US, the National Immigration Law Center, and Informed Immigrant.

Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

By Mary Malerba
Mary Malerba Assistant Director, Corporate Partner Relations, Eastern CT, Rhode Island and College of Agriculture, Health & Natural Resources (CAHNR)