Western's Commitment to our Undocumented Students
The Career Services Center at Western Washington University provides advising to all students regardless of immigration status. Undocumented students are welcome to attend any of our events and workshops, and we encourage you to make an appointment to discuss your career and academic goals – you can trust that all information will be kept confidential. You do not need to disclose your undocumented status unless you choose to do so. Call or stop by the front desk to schedule an appointment with one of our staff members who can work with you to explore career opportunities.
- Career Counseling is an opportunity to collaborate with a counselor to clarify goals and explore your interests, values, and skills. A career counselor can help you develop a plan for moving forward toward your career goals.
- Pre-Healthcare/Graduate School Advisors are available to assist you with working toward professional school (law, medical, dental, pharmacy, veterinary, optometry, physician assistant, nursing, chiropractic schools, or other allied health careers) or graduate school.
Education Beyond Western
College Guide for Undocumented Students: a good overview from bestcolleges.com.
- Pre-Health Dreamers: resource and advocacy group working to support undocumented pre-health students. Includes pre-health internship database, list of available scholarships, among many other resources.
- Admission Policies of Medical Schools Open to Undocumented and DACA Applicants: a spreadsheet of medical programs that accept undocumented applicants.
- Informal list of law schools that accept DREAMers, and University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law accepts applications from undocumented students, including those with DACA status.
- Blog post about personal journey of an undocumented student currently in law school at University of Houston Law Center.
- Tips on writing your personal statement and general advice about getting through law school.
- My Undocumented Life: information and resources with specifics about navigating the educational system and finding scholarships.
Participating in a variety of experiences while you are at Western (working, volunteering, participating in student clubs, research, etc.) will allow you to develop skills you can apply in the workplace so it is important to find as many opportunities as you can. The Volunteer Center of Whatcom County has links to many local volunteer opportunities, and you can find a list of WWU Associated Students clubs here. If you are interested in research, talk to your faculty about whether they have openings in their labs and how you can gain experience. Look through Viking CareerLink to find jobs and internships. As you search, keep in mind your ability to accept a paid or unpaid position. Networking is also an important component in your job search. The Blue Group is an Associated Students club that works to connect and build community among undocumented students.
Disclosing Your Status to Employers*
It can be confusing and stressful to decide when and with whom to share your status. Throughout the job search and hiring process it is important to provide information that is true and authentic, however, you ultimately get to decide whether or not to share your status. Come in to talk with a staff member about strategies for disclosing your status at different points in the process. You may decide to share your status with an organization early in the hiring process or in an interview if you feel comfortable doing so, and to start a discussion about how to move forward in the process. It is important to consider who you would want to disclose to (sharing with a recruiter vs. a supervisor) and in what manner (disclosing in a personal statement for grad school vs. in an interview). If you are unsure about whether and how to disclose your status, meet with one of the career center’s career counselors, or an advisor in Student Outreach Services. These individuals can support you during these uncomfortable situations.
*this section is from Georgetown University’s career center page at https://careercenter.georgetown.edu/undocumented-students
Filling Out Applications
On job applications there is usually a question that says: “Are you legally authorized to work in the United States?”
- If you have DACA you can answer “yes” to the question and continue through the hiring process without having to disclose more detailed information about your background. See the section below for more information on DACA.
- If you do not have DACA or another work authorization status, there are other options you may consider for gaining experience and finding employment. See the section below for alternative employment options.
DACA & Alternative Employment Options
Deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) provides temporary relief from deportation and work authorization for individuals who came to the U.S. as children and who meet certain guidelines.
- To learn more about DACA eligibility and the application process, visit the Department of Homeland Security website.
- This employer guide on DACA has useful information on how to complete the required I-9 Form for Employment Eligibility. All employees must submit an acceptable document that establishes identity and employment authorization. DACA is item 4 on List A.
Alternative Employment Options
If you do not have DACA, you may consider other avenues for gaining professional experience, such as:
- If you receive an internship offer, you may ask the employer not to be paid and pursue other means of financial support such as those mentioned above.
- You may discuss with an employer the option of working as an independent contractor. Independent contractors often do the same type of work, but instead of working for one employer, might work for multiple clients. Examples of independent contractor jobs include tutor or child care provider.
- An independent contractor can use an Independent Taxpayer Identification Number which can be obtained regardless of immigration status.
- If you are interested in starting your own business, a Limited Liability Company (LLC) may be an option to consider. An LLC is composed of an individual or a group of people who are both workers and owners of a business.