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9 Best Jobs for Immigrants Without Papers (2023)

Although the United States of America is home to over 11% of the world’s immigrants, the current political climate has placed immigrants without papers in the spotlight.

There is a lot of confusion when it comes to understanding how immigrants without papers could still find jobs. Some companies have found ways for these people to be productive members of society and even receive paychecks!

There are also nonprofits that help new immigrants find jobs and provide them with resources to better adapt to life in the U.S.

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And while it’s possible for immigrants without papers to find jobs, most have to settle for low-paying jobs because of the limited options available to them.


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Jobs for immigrants without papers

Most jobs for immigrants without papers do not pay well, mostly because both parties understand that without proper documents one lacks bargaining power. Below are a few of the best jobs for undocumented immigrants in the United States.

#1. Construction workers

Construction and manufacturing companies tend to hire immigrants without papers because they can provide a valuable service and will hire them for a low cost.

Although the pay is not usually the best in these fields, the immigrants will have job security and money coming in every week.

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While undocumented immigrants make up less than 3% of construction laborers, it is estimated that 40% of them are working on construction sites across the U.S. at any given time.

It’s no surprise that many construction companies are willing to overlook their legal status in order to keep costs down for their clients.

While US-born construction workers earn an average salary of $38,538 per year, immigrants without papers earn about $27,000 yearly.

#2. Housekeepers

Housekeeping is another job undocumented immigrants can do. Because there are so many immigrant families who work in the hospitality industry, housekeeping is a very common job for people without papers.

Although many immigrants would prefer to work in other industries, it takes a lot of training and money to learn how to become a housekeeper.

In some cases, undocumented immigrants will get paid less than their legal counterparts because they do not have enough experience yet.

But, in some instances, there is no difference between the pay of a legal worker and an undocumented worker. Many hotels don’t check immigration status when hiring housekeepers because they are already paying them a very low wage regardless of their status.

Although housekeepers get paid $14.53 an hour, immigrants without papers make up to $2 less per hour. However, a job that pays $12 an hour seems okay if you do not have the proper documents to get a better-paying job.

#3. Farm workers

More than half of the workers who work on farms in the U.S. are not legally authorized to do so due to a lack of proper documentation.

Undocumented immigrants represent a large portion of farm workers but have to endure long hours and low pay.

However, because they are not as highly skilled as other immigrants such as software engineers and doctors, they are more likely to accept jobs that pay less.

Additionally, having little experience in other fields means they do not have many options for better jobs with higher salaries.

Farm workers in the United States make an average income of $38,154.

#4. Nannies

Being a nanny is one of the most available jobs for immigrants without papers due to the rising demand for their services. There are more than 217,000 documented nannies in the U.S., which is more than in any other country.

Some wealthy families are willing to pay as much as $100 an hour to have a live-out nanny, who will not only take care of their children during the day but will also prepare the children’s meals.

Nannies without papers earn between $9 and $13 an hour, which is less than an average of $20.85 per hour for documented nannies.

#5. Caregivers

There is a large demand for caregivers in the United States because more than 1.1 million family members live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Some of these facilities will provide their caregivers with food and a place to stay, but many are not able to pay them enough to survive.

In order for undocumented immigrants to become caregivers, they must first have experience working as a housekeeper or nanny, which many people would rather avoid.

Caregivers without papers earn between $8 and $11.82 per hour, which is also less than what documented caregivers earn.

#6. Restaurant workers

Undocumented immigrants can also find jobs in fast-food restaurants and diners, but most will start off as dishwashers or busboys.

An undocumented immigrant who works in a restaurant may earn up to $500 per month, which is far less than the average fast-food worker makes in the U.S.

In certain states, it is also possible to get a license that allows a restaurant to serve alcohol. This type of job will pay even more than waiting tables because they are more likely to receive tips from customers.

#7. Garbage collectors

Although it is a low-paying job, there are roughly 88,500 garbage collectors in the U.S. and about 9.7% of them are undocumented immigrants.

Many immigrants have no choice but to be hired as garbage collectors because their work options are limited and most do not pay that well.

According to undocumented immigrants working as garbage collectors, the job pays well compared to other jobs such as being a nanny, caregiver, farm worker, or restaurant employee.

Immigrants without papers doing this job can earn anywhere between $23,750 and $29,870 a year. Unfortunately, this is still less than the average salary of documented workers who earn more than $36,612 yearly.

#8. Concession attendant

Another ideal job for immigrants without papers is being a concession attendant. The job does not require a lot of experience but doesn’t pay that well either.

Some of the jobs concession workers do include working at small gas stations, cleaning public bathrooms, and selling food on a hot summer day.

However, because it does not require much education and no English skills are needed to perform this job, it is usually one of the first jobs that newly-arrived immigrants without papers take on.

#9. Janitors

One of the more common jobs for undocumented immigrants is janitorial work. It is a very hard job, which requires cleaning buildings in harsh conditions and often working overnight.

However, many immigrants who do this job are paid fairly well and it is also one of the easiest jobs to get because they don’t speak much English or need any training or experience.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, more than 250,000 illegal immigrants are janitors, which goes a long way to show the demand for janitors is high if employers are willing to hire undocumented workers.

FAQs on jobs for undocumented immigrants

Let’s now have a look at a few of the common questions regarding jobs for immigrants without papers in the United States.

1. What is the difference between illegal immigration and immigration without papers?

Illegal immigrants don’t want to be deported and come to the country in search of better jobs and better lives. They use false documents like passports or fake Social Security cards, but they are not considered legal workers because they don’t have any proper credentials.

Immigration without papers is a lot different because it does not refer to migrants who act illegally as much as it refers to those who simply don’t have proper documentation in order to receive full-time jobs or apply for social services.

2. What are some common jobs that undocumented immigrants do?

The most common jobs for immigrants without papers include working as construction workers, waiters or waitresses, dishwashers or busboys, nannies, housekeepers, and caregivers.

3. Do undocumented immigrants have rights?

Undocumented immigrants do have rights and are protected by various laws. They are protected by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which made it illegal for employers to hire workers without proper documentation. It is also against the law to use false documents or give false information while filling out a job application. Although they are not allowed to work legally, they have the right to receive a minimum wage if they ever find a job.

In conclusion

Although undocumented immigrants without papers have a few jobs to choose from, they are unable to legally work in the United States. Many of them have to settle for jobs that don’t pay well or don’t offer benefits.

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