How to Earn an Income as an Undocumented Individual

As graduation approaches, students begin sorting out their next plan. But while your fellow classmates may be submitting job applications, as an undocumented student you may be wondering about your career options. This can be a confusing process and if you don’t know anyone else who has had to, or is currently, navigating it, it can feel a bit limiting.

However, there are options for earning an income as an undocumented individual, including pursuing independent contracting or entrepreneurship. Anyone in the United States can pursue these options regardless of immigration status, work authorization, or whether or not they have a social security number.

Independent contractors provide a professional service or product. From accounting to real estate, to marketing services or the arts, and so much more, there are endless options for what this could entail. As an independent contractor, you would be the one to determine your pay rates, your schedule, and which services are offered. All the income earned for your time or projects completed would be yours to keep.

As an entrepreneur, you would be responsible for operating a business. As a business owner, you would either pay yourself a salary or draw a percentage of the profits. There many considerations to make, such as, what kind of business model will you choose? Will other partners or stakeholders be involved? How will you secure funding?

There are many resources out there to help you in your pursuit of self-employment. Immigrants Rising is an organization that serves to empower undocumented young people in their pursuit of academic and career goals. Visit their #Undocuhustle website for tips and resources on leveraging your education, skills, and experience to earn an income as a self-starter.

#Undocuhustle is a great starting place for undocumented contractors and entrepreneurs. This resource offers step-by-step guides for establishing yourself as an independent contractor or business owner, including how to handle taxes and develop contracts. They also offer information on how to secure funding and locate freelance opportunities.

Check out for more information on getting started.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

By Mary Malerba
Mary Malerba Assistant Director, Alumni Relations