Logo for: TheDream.us


Entrepreneurship is a way for anyone regardless of their immigration status to start their own business or work for themselves. Entrepreneurial career pathways do not require work authorization and include options such as starting a business, independent contracting, freelancing, or joining a worker cooperative. Undocumented individuals without work authorization can make money through entrepreneurship using an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) or an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

Starting a Business

Individuals can start their own businesses and become business owners regardless of their immigration status. According to the American Immigration Council, there are over 823,000 undocumented entrepreneurs who have their own business. Business owners are able to generate income, support themselves and their families, and have a meaningful career.

An undocumented individual will need an ITIN or EIN to work and pay taxes as a business owner. (To apply for an EIN, an individual needs a SSN or ITIN.)

Helpful Resources – Starting a Business:

Independent Contracting & Freelancing

The terms “independent contractor” and “freelancer” are often used interchangeably. They are self-employed individuals or businesses that work for others as non-employees, maintaining independence and control over their work.

An undocumented individual will need an ITIN to provide services and pay taxes as an independent contractor or freelancer. See Entrepreneurship stories featuring TheDream.US Alumni and others here.

Helpful Resources – Independent Contracting & Freelancing:

Worker Cooperative

A worker cooperative (or worker co-op) is a business that is both owned and managed by its members. A worker co-op is a worker-owned business. Members of worker cooperatives join by investing time and/or money in the cooperative and make decisions about how the cooperative will be managed. When cooperatives make important decisions, each member gets a vote.

Helpful Resources – Workers Cooperatives: