Immigrants without a social security number, either because they have entered the country illegally or have freshly arrived through legal channels but have yet to receive a social, have historically been unable to obtain a cosmetology license. This has made it difficult for them to find work, even if they have experience working as a hairdresser or nail technician in their home country. In order to legally work, you must have a license in the state in which you work. Otherwise, you could face large fines and other penalties.
Many immigrants were left with difficult decisions. They could either work illegally in their preferred profession or find other work that did not require a license or social security number. California has recently changed the game with Senate Bill Number 1159 Chapter 752, which was approved in September 2014. With this bill, California residents can now apply for a work license in a variety of fields, including cosmetology, using an individual tax identification number if they do not have a social security number.
Amending the Law
The senate bill amends current laws so that by January 1, 2016, the state licensing boards will accept both individual tax identification numbers and social security numbers in the application for licenses. Additionally, the boards are unable to deny a license due to anyone’s immigration or citizen status. The law helps with obtaining a cosmetology license, and it also opens the doors for immigrants to obtain other professional licenses in California, including those needed to work as a dentist, doctor, lawyer, and nurse. There are about 40 state boards that fall under the bill that can make changes to allow for illegal immigrants and others without a social security number to obtain a license.
What it Means for Cosmetologists
Undocumented immigrants and those who have yet to receive their social security number can now work towards obtaining a cosmetology license in California. However, they still have to undergo the required number of training hours, either through an approved cosmetology school or apprenticeship program. Applicants also have to pass the state licensing exam. The only rules that have been changed apply to the requirements surrounding the social security number.
Other Potential Hurdles for Undocumented Workers
Although undocumented immigrants can now obtain a cosmetology license, they may still have some hurdles to obtaining work. Namely, there remains federal laws that do not allow the hiring of unauthorized immigrants. However, undocumented workers can start their own business or be self-employed. Luckily, there are many jobs in the cosmetology industry for independent contractors to help those that may not have the capital or desire to start their own salon.
California has opened the doors for allowing undocumented workers to find work in professional fields requiring licenses. This means that immigrants without a social security number can now use their individual tax identification number to apply for a cosmetology license, although they still have to undergo the same process to obtain it. Then, they have to work as an independent contractor or open their own business to not deal with problems on the federal level.
For those who already have their license, Beauty Academy offers online continuing education cosmetology courses.