Undocumented Students

Seize Your Superpower

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Determining what to pursue after graduation is stressful for all students, however, with additional stressors such as employment barriers and fears of deportation, preparing for life after graduation can feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.

It is common to have questions such as: What career or industry is best for me and supports my values? How can I gain experience and employment in this industry? Will I be able to land a job after graduation without a work permit? How do I apply for and fund graduate school?

Career Services is here to support this journey. We are committed to ensuring your success, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. You can use this page as a guide to get started.



Key Campus Resources @ UCSB

Get Hired: Undocumented Students

For complete information on job search strategies, resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn, interviews, and more, review our starter tips to Get Hired in all careers as well as the specialized tips on this page.

Getting Familiar With Job Searching

When researching work as an undocumented student, there are considerations and questions regarding discussing or revealing your status. During any aspect of the hiring process, you are never mandated to discuss your immigration status. If you want to disclose your status to an employer, we recommend that you Make an Appointment to speak with a Career Counselor as well as the Undocumented Student Services Coordinator, to receive strategies and additional support. 


Job Application Questions    

Job applications often include questions that make job seekers uncertain about answering. When answering questions on an application, we advise all students to provide information that is true and honest. Forging documents or committing document fraud can have lasting effects on your immigration status in the future. However, we understand that sometimes the way the question is presented is confusing.

Click below to see common application questions and how to answer them.

  • If you currently have DACA status, you are legally authorized to work in the United States and can answer the question with a simple “yes”.
  • If you currently do not have DACA status, you are not legally authorized to work in the United States. There are various strategies to pursue a career in the United States without DACA such as independent contracting and starting your own business (see below). 

No, undocumented immigrants, including those who hold DACA status, are not considered legal permanent residents. 

No, this question is meant for international students who will require sponsorship in the future to work in the United States under a specific visa. 

These questions are often confusing. If you have DACA, you will present your Social Security Card and your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) after you are hired by a company. For more information on application questions and your workplace rights as a DACA recipient, review the FAQs through the National Immigration Law Center.


If you do not have DACA status, the most common ways individuals pursue career goals are as an independent contractor or by starting their own business. 

Independent Contracting

Did You Know?

According to the IRS, an independent contractor is a self-employed person who produces a specific type of work product in a determined amount of time.

In this, the payer (or employing agency) has the right to control or direct only the result of the world and not what will be done or how it will be done.

Source: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/independent-contractor-defined

When filing for employment with a company, an independent contractor can use a Social Security Number (SSN) or an Independent Tax Identification Number (ITIN), which can be obtained regardless of immigration status. Some examples of independent contracts include tutoring, promoting, childcare, and construction.

Here are some main differences between employees and independent contractors:


  • Has a continuing relationship with an employer
  • Normally is provided with significant tools and materials by the employer
  • Maintains the right to quit at any time without incurring liability
  • Must comply with instructions about where, when, and how to work
  • Is trained by the employer

Independent Contractor

  • Performs the same work for multiple clients
  • Has their own tools and equipment;  can hire, supervise, and pay assistants
  • Receives all profits and is held liable for all losses and debts
  • Organizes their own hours and work schedule
  • Implements their own methods for training

There are various resources to support independent contracting. SAMA School offers freelance training and resources to help you feel confident as an independent contractor. For ideas and resources on working as an independent contractor or starting a business, click the button below.

Visit #UndocuHustle


Starting Your Own Business

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, you can also start your own business as a worker cooperative or a Limited Liability Company (LLC). Immigrants Rising explains the difference between the two and how they each function in their Worker Cooperatives & LLC’s Webinar. To begin considering developing your own business and what that entails, watch the Business Model Canvas and Design Thinking Webinar by Immigrants Rising. Whether you work for an employer, as an independent contractor, or start your own business, Immigrants Rising provides many resources for your #UndocuHustle and beyond. 

Learn More

Immigrants Rising and the University of California system have teamed up to provide a comprehensive toolkit of income generation options for undocumented students regardless of your work authorization status. Learn more about independent contracting and starting your own business in the Income Generation Options for Undocumented Students Toolkit


Connecting With the Undocumented Community

When considering the factors above, remember to always Make Targeted Connections. Connections include friends, family, faculty/teachers at UCSB and previous schools, mentors, alumni, coworkers, and supervisors. You can utilize these individuals for professional and personal growth. Connecting with people who have experienced similar situations and navigated the hiring process with and without DACA will provide ample strategies to gain experience and employment moving forward. Connect with the Undocumented Student Services Coordinator and attend UCSB undocumented student alumni panels and events to find these individuals. 

Outside of campus, research-specific professional development organizations dedicated to supporting undocumented students, such as Pre-Health Dreamers, and participate in population-specific conferences (i.e., UC National Summit for Undocumented Students and UndocuGrad Conference). Oftentimes, these conferences provide student discounts.