Believing the strangest things, loving the alien
November 30, 2008 8:56 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking at staying with some friends in New York for a short time, to work together more closely than the internet allows on a not-for-profit project. I'd like to take a job while I'm there so I can contribute at least something to their rent and grocery bills. But I'm a Canadian.

Getting a work visa isn't remotely possible. Is it practical to try to work without a visa in New York? I have no experience that's likely to be relevant, I don't know how to bartend and I have lived a soft, wussy life free of manual labour. How do you find a job that pays cash and doesn't ask questions?

I'm perfectly open to "don't do this because it's wrong and bad" answers as well.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (7 answers total)
Don't do this because it's wrong and bad.

That said, try childcare. Although the sector is probably not as booming as usual due to the financial crisis, I guarantee you that you can find under-the-table work, either part-time or occasional.

You don't indicate which flavor of human you are, and I imagine that if you're of the rougher sex, you're sitting there thinking, "Me? A nanny? But I am far too manly!" Well, there's highly profitable manny market, typically involving caring for rambunctious boys.

To get the job: craigslist, and parenting boards (probably you can find one for the neighborhood where you'll be staying). If you're comfortable doing it, hanging out in playgrounds and bookstores that cater to the stroller set can net you a job. Watch out, though; it might get you arrested, especially if you're male.

Bring references and copies of any first-aid-type certifications that you have; you may run into roadblocks with parents who want background checks, but honestly, most don't bother.

Good luck finding a job!
posted by charmcityblues at 9:12 PM on November 30, 2008

Don't do this because you might get caught and if you later apply for residency it could haunt you.

Think things like babysitting, dog walking, snow shoveling, tutoring etc. You could also think about selling things (on ebay? locally? Either things that you make or buy and resell). It wasn't clear to me while I was living in the US If this would count as working and I was too afraid to do anything that might remotely get me into trouble, so I never tried it.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:15 PM on November 30, 2008

Oh and along with childcare goes eldercare. My cousin (legally) moonlights for a couple of older people. She drops by their homes each evening and spends an hour or so helping them with small things like some minor tidying and getting them to bed for the night, staying while they shower etc. This is well outside the scope of nursing and closer to just having someone around.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:17 PM on November 30, 2008

Why not see if you can freelance some work from Canada (or elsewhere in the world), while you're living in the States? There are plenty of data entry, writing, etc. jobs that you might find you're eligible for and can do easily, while not in the same country as the company. I'd do that, mainly because you don't want to get caught.

If that turns out to not be an option, I would tell your friends honestly of your plans and see if they don't know of some other friends who would pay you, cash in hand. Illegal as hell, but fuck the government(s) and taxation, I say.
posted by metalheart at 10:14 PM on November 30, 2008

It's incredibly easy to find under-the-table work in any big city. Talk to immigrant communities. Talk to small businesses. Bike shops, car repair shops. Youth hostels, cheap hotels, etc. Work for your friends.

Whatever you do, keep it strictly cash only. NEVER deposit money into the bank. If authorities ever ask, just say your family is supporting you.

But yeah, overall, I'd say it's not really worth it for you as a Canadian to be doing this. Being banned from the US is a real hassle given how often Canadians have to travel to or through the US.

Better to live off a loan or off your credit cards, if it really is a short-term thing.
posted by randomstriker at 1:22 AM on December 1, 2008

How much time do you have to save some cash before you're off to NY?

Ebay it now, with the idea of possibly continuing later. Just take a look at things you have laying around, take some pictures, and get to listing. Do this before you go to NY - less clutter to return to, cash in your pocket. Ebaying things when you're in NY won't hurt you in the long run, but you have the issue of buying/transporting the stuff you'd sell when you're in NY... or buying inventory to sell. And that isn't even getting into where to keep your as yet unsold stock and packing materials in your friends house. For those reasons, as well as the randomness of ebay income, I'd sell everything I could get my hands on while at home and save that cash for NY. Ebay's great to spin clutter into cash, but I wouldn't bank on it to pay rent. It also takes more time than you'd think.

I'd nix the nanny or cash job thing. Firstly, you will need references of some sort to work as a nanny. Secondly, in this day and age, employers are getting a lot tighter about their paperwork. You might be able to find something, but I'm saying that you shouldn't count on finding something. You can find cash jobs that are OK, but most of the time, they are cash jobs because they're so short term that the business owner can't be bothered to get all the paperwork together to pay you by cheque or direct debit. Or, they're fairly crap jobs and the turnover is so high that the business owner just doesn't bother. I knew someone who did the cash nanny thing when she was in the US illegally - one family in three actually treated her somewhat well, and even they were apt to do things like "forgetting" to call her to say they'd be home late... leaving her, frantic, trying to cancel plans at the last minute and to track down the parents. One or two times with that kind of thing would really screw with your project time, let alone your social life.

Anything you can do online or remotely, whilst paying into your Canadian account would be a much better bet.
posted by Grrlscout at 3:42 AM on December 1, 2008

Where in New York - are you staying in NYC? Do you have any musical capabilities? The subways of NYC are a very lucrative platform for many people who busk their skills there. Just last night I gave a couple bucks to a guy on the downtown ACE platform at 59th street - he didn't even play an instrument but had a boom-box playing instrumental tracks to which he was singing along to - he was on par with Nat King Cole.
posted by allkindsoftime at 7:54 AM on December 1, 2008

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