You are currently viewing How to get a job in the United States while being illegal

If you are wondering how to get a job in the United States being illegal, possibly your immigration status needs to be regulated. 

For years, everything related to undocumented immigrants looking for jobs has become a sensitive matter.

The reality is that there are several ways to get a job in the U. S. while being illegal, although this is not what you should think about, but rather legalizing your situation.

Our immigration lawyers in New Jersey can help you process this employment documentation.

How You Can Get A Job In The United States In 2024 While Being Illegal

Working in the United States without documentation is illegal. Anyone who works without an employment authorization risks receiving a penalty that can range from fines to being deported from the country.

how can i work in the usa being undocumented

Therefore, to get a job in the United States, foreign workers must first have obtained the following:

If foreigners have at least one of these 3 requirements, they will be able to work legally in the country.

Consequences Of Working Illegally In The USA For The Worker And The Employer

Did you know what happens if an illegal immigrant is employed? That you, like the worker, are exposed to being punished for breaking the law.

Below are some of the possible consequences:


Both workers without work permits and employers risk being fined a large amount of money. This figure increases for each infraction committed and will include:

  • $250 to $2,500 for first offense.
  • $2,000 to $5,000 for a second offense for each illegal employee hired.
  • $5,000 to $25,000 for each illegal employee hired in case the employer has 3 or more crimes.

In some cases, undocumented workers can pay an immigration bond to settle their fine and avoid further charges. 


If you have traveled to the United States with a visa and use it in an unauthorized manner, you could face removal proceedings.

An example is that you travel to the U. S. with a tourist visa and get to work in the country. The tourist visa is only for temporary visit purposes and not to permanently stay or work. If you do this, you could be deported from the country.

Review: “How long can we stay with a tourist visa?” for more information. If you are facing removal proceedings, you may be eligible for cancellation of removal. We will show you how to stop removal proceedings.

The 3 and 10 year bars

The three- and ten-year bars prohibits immigrants from returning to the United States if they have been in the country under unlawful presence.

Additionally, immigrants who work illegally in the U. S. on the wrong visa may face a re-entry ban of up to 10 years. 

In these cases, you may be eligible for an immigration waiver. Contact us and we will evaluate your chances to apply for it.

Finding A Job Knowing The Risks

Finding work without papers can be complex, but not impossible. Of course, you should try to legalize yourself before looking for a job. 

In general, undocumented immigrants tend to seek employment in:

  • Large cities: Large cities are usually a concentration point for undocumented immigrants. More people tend to live there, which means a greater opportunity to find work.
  • Small businesses: Even in this online world, undocumented immigrants choose to visit small stores, factories or restaurants that are seeking and hiring new workers. 

Other points That Undocumented Immigrants Should Consider

  • Curriculum vitae: Immigrants need to have a CV before applying for a job. If they do not have one, they usually go to personal development centers.
  • Experience: If you don’t have experience, it certainly complicates things, but you can find your first job as a kitchen assistant, washing dishes in a restaurant, as a gardener or as a salesperson. That is, first jobs in which you are not required to have much experience.
  • English level: If you do not speak English fluently, the task of finding work becomes complicated, although this is something that you should learn and more so in order to legalize your situation. Whether going to the local library, going to your high school to attend classes, or simply surrounding yourself with English speakers will help you.

What Are The Jobs That Immigrants Usually Do?

Although getting a job in the United States without documents is illegal, the vast majority of immigrants continue to work in the U. S. without documentation. This is because there are companies that hire undocumented workers.

Companies generally hire undocumented immigrants because they can pay them less than American workers. 

how to travel and work in the usa

Among the jobs most provided to undocumented immigrants are:

  • Community gardening.
  • Sewing and tailoring.
  • Laundry services.
  • Personal care.
  • Sellers in various stores.
  • Home clean.
  • Car cleaning.

Although a permit is required by law to carry out such work, illegal immigrants and some companies continue to ignore the seriousness of the issue. 

No matter how small the job is, a work authorization is required.

Is It Legal To Hire Undocumented Immigrants Who Cannot Provide A Work Visa Or Social Security Number?

It is not legal to hire undocumented immigrants who do not provide a work visa or Social Security Number (SSN) unless you can prove that you are an American citizen or have an employment authorization.

How Do Illegal Immigrants Get Jobs Without A Social Security Number?

This depends on multiple factors. Undocumented immigrants may provide an illegal, falsified, or invalid SSN.

Other individuals can get a job without even presenting documents due to recommendations from family or friends. However, this is still illegal, so in no case is it recommended to do so without having the EAD.

Can I Hire An Illegal Immigrant With An ITIN Number?

The ITIN is not useful for working, as it is only useful for federal tax purposes. Obtaining an ITIN will not change your immigration status or give you the right to work in the U. S.

Who Needs An employment authorization In The United States?

All employees who are not American citizens or lawful permanent residents must have a valid employment authorization. 

However, applying for an EAD will depend on your immigration status and what type of American visa you are eligible for. Below we will indicate who will need an employment authorization in the U. S:

Temporary Workers

Immigrants with temporary employment visas will be classified as temporary workers and will be under one of the following visas:

Permanent Workers

As long as they remain employed by the same company or organization, permanent workers may reside in the U. S. indefinitely. To do this, they will need one of the following:


Students will be able to work while continuing with their studies, as long as they have:

Exchange students who hold a J-1 visa will require additional documents for employment processing. This is because some can work, while others cannot. Call us and we will guide you on this topic.

Asylees And Refugees

Asylees and refugees can legally work in the U. S. if:

  • Your EAD permit was approved, and 
  • More than 150 days have passed and your case still has not been decided.
asylum process in usa

In our dedicated section you can learn how to apply for the asylum process in the USA.


Immigrants who are under temporary protected status (TPS) will be able to work legally as they may qualify to obtain an EAD.


Those under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program will be able to apply for an EAD and work legally. 


Immigrants under the NACARA program will need to apply for an employment authorization if they want to work legally in the country.

Domestic Or Personal Assistants

Foreigners who arrive in the United States accompanying an American citizen, lawful permanent resident or other foreigner will be able to obtain an EAD if they meet the requirements for a type B-1 business visitor visa .

Citizens Fiancées

Those who have a K-1 fiancé visa may apply for an EAD. However, we recommend enlisting the help of our immigration attorneys to advise you on your eligibility.

Immigrants Pending Adjustment Of Status

Those who have a pending application for adjustment of status may apply for an employment authorization.

Immigrants Who Have Been Victims Of Crimes

Foreign crime victims may obtain an EAD if they apply for:

How To Apply For An Employment Authorization Document (EAD)?

To apply for an EAD you must know if you qualify for one. Subsequently you will have to complete the following steps:

  1. File Form I-765 with USCIS.
  2. Pay $470 if you apply online or $520 if you apply on paper.
  3. Submit all additional information requested.
  4. Go to the appointment for biometric data (fingerprints, photographs and signatures).
  5. Wait for the final decision on your application.

How To Sponsor A Worker For Permanent Employment In The United States?

To employ a foreign worker, the employer may need to sponsor them for a work visa. If this is the case, the employer must initiate the sponsorship process to request the foreigner as a permanent worker.

This typically requires a labor certification and an ETA Form 9089. Once the employer obtains certification from the DOL, it must be included in the sponsorship petition.

In our blog on humanitarian parole program you will find a table with the current sponsor requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Undocumented Immigrants And Work

Now that we have answered how to get a job in the United States while being illegal, it is time to learn about some frequently asked questions related to the topic.

hire an illegal immigrant with itin number

How To travel to the U. S. for employment purposes?

There are several ways to travel to the U. S. for work purposes, including:

  • Be sponsored by an employer through a Green Card for employment.
  • Apply for a business visa as a trader, investor or for some temporary agricultural or non-agricultural work.
  • Be petitioned by a family member through a family petition to the United States and subsequently obtain the Green Card.

How To Get an employment Visa For The United States?

To get a business visa, you must first be eligible for one. In many cases, USCIS must approve your application before you can apply for a visa to the Department of State (DOS). 

Additionally, before entering the United States, it is necessary to appear before a CBP officer and obtain permission to enter the country and participate in the proposed activity.

Depending on the category you are seeking, you may require a U. S. employer to apply on your behalf. This will be to demonstrate your eligibility before the application is approved. 

However, if you are applying based on certain categories, you may be eligible to apply on your own.

Can Undocumented Immigrants Obtain employment authorization?

Although it is considered illegal in the United States for undocumented immigrants to get a job and work without a permit, they may be able to obtain one. Therefore, we recommend that you consult with our firm to evaluate your possibilities.

What Documents Are Needed To Hire New Employees?

In order for employers to hire new workers, they will need to submit:

  • Form I-9, employment eligibility verification, and
  • Certain employee identification documents.

These two documents are essential for an employer to hire a worker in the U. S. 

Additionally, all employers in the U. S. must complete Form I-9 for each new individual they hire. 

Review the most recent requirements for compliance with the I-9 form on our website .

Can My Employer Fire Me If I Apply For DACA?

Employers are responsible for hiring only authorized workers. You do not need to discuss your DACA application or status with the employer. 

If you suspect that your employer is discriminating against you or firing you because of your immigration status, that would be a violation of the law.

How Can The Curbelo Law Firm Help Me If I Want To Work In The United States?

As we have seen previously, getting a job in the United States while being illegal is a complex topic. 

American employers by law cannot hire foreign workers who do not have an employment authorization in the United States.

If you are an employer or an undocumented foreign worker, the best way to get a job in the U. S. is to enlist the help of an immigration attorney.

 These can help you in different ways:

  • Advise throughout the application process for an EAD.
  • Determine what type of visa or immigration status it applies to.
  • Tell you if you can change your status to another that allows you to work.
  • Explain to you the options you would have to obtain the Green Card.

These are some of the ways a lawyer could help you. Call us, email us, or schedule an appointment with the office, located in Ridgewood, New Jersey.