Undocumented Entrepreneurs in Growing Industries: Construction 

Generating income in the United States is one of the biggest challenges for undocumented individuals, as they are not eligible to apply for a work permit. Fortunately, there are several ways for individuals to earn income, such as becoming an independent contractor or starting their own business. However, choosing the right industry to start a business in can be difficult and create a lot of anxiety due to the uncertainties that come along with it. In this blog, we explore several industries that are projected to grow and are in need of workers to provide help and resources to help in the decision-making process.  

As of November 2023, some of the fastest growing industries in the United States are construction, post-construction finishing trades, and real estate. The figure below shows what each industry entails and how they differ from each other.  

General Contractor 
Responsible for all aspects of managing construction projects and subcontracting specialty work that is beyond their scope of work. 
Specialty Contractors 
Contracted by the general contractor to perform specialty work such as painting, flooring, drywall, electric, etc.  
Real Estate Investor 
Purchasing and selling properties. Contracting general contractors to build or remodel properties and sell them for a profit   

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), before 2028, the employment rate for construction workers will increase by 11%, the rate for carpenters will increase by 8%, and the rate for painters is projected to increase by 6% (Indeed). The residential real estate market in the U.S. is estimated to increase from the current $2.53 trillion to $2.80 trillion by 2028, according to Mordor Intelligence Industry Reports. These growing industries will create many opportunities for business owners to provide services that are crucial and needed in their communities. 

The real estate and construction industries go hand and hand with each other, as one of the many business options for individuals in the construction industry is to purchase properties in need of work, renovate them, and sell them to make a profit. Several trades such as painting, plumbing, roofing, and electrical work, to name a few, are needed to complete these renovations. Commonly, general contractors subcontract these trades, providing lots of jobs to many independent contractors.  

The first step in starting a business is to create a business plan detailing the kind of services to be provided or goods to be sold, the costs associated with operating the business, prices to be charged, and potential profits to be generated. Budgeting for essential materials and equipment needed is crucial in the construction industry. For several trades such as painting and plumbing, it might be more beneficial for individuals to purchase their own equipment and materials, as they could be used for several projects. Conversely, for trades such as excavating, it might make more sense to rent equipment, as it could be very expensive to buy and maintain. However, this is a decision to be made during the planning process. Because of this and other costs related to operating a business, raising funds is crucial. The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development offers a variety of resources for funding and development of small businesses, such as the Minority Construction Council (MCC). In addition, the Connecticut Small Business Development Center (CTSBDC) has a lot of different resources and information regarding raising funds for small businesses in the state.  

Choosing a business structure, such as a sole proprietorship, general partnership, or limited liability company (LLC) is crucial to launch a business. Most construction companies start as sole proprietorships, while others choose an LLC as their business structure. What separates these two is that although a sole proprietorship is easy to set up, the owner is responsible for any liabilities and debts, while in LLCs, these responsibilities to the owner are limited, but it could be more expensive and take longer to set up. More information about this can be found in the Immigrants Rising Website.  Furthermore, to set up and legally operate a business, an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) or an Employer Identification Number (EIN) is needed. For instance, if an individual decided to start a painting company and they are the only person performing the work, they would only need an ITIN. However, if they preferred to hire individuals to work for them and established a corporation, they would need an EIN. These documents allow individuals to report and pay taxes and open a business bank account. More information about requirements for these documents can be found on the IRS website.  

Regardless of the business structure and services to be provided, construction businesses are very profitable, as they are in high demand and projected to grow. There are several opportunities in this industry for undocumented individuals to generate income and positively impact their communities. The Undocumented Students Affinity Community page has several other resources for career development and employment opportunities for undocumented students, such as upcoming events, success stories, and student and professional organizations. Take advantage of all of these when planning your business path to become a successful entrepreneur.   

By Jonathan Bustamante
Jonathan Bustamante