Virginia Becomes the Latest State to Offer In-State Tuition to DACA Recipients

1384587_brown_envelope_money_bribe_1.jpgIn June of 2012, the Obama administration was heralded by undocumented foreign nationals and immigrants' rights groups as the President announced the now widely known Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (referred to as DACA). Under DACA, young foreign nationals who are currently residing in the U.S. without immigration authorization may apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a temporary postponement of deportation proceedings and may also receive work authorization.

USCIS has received hundreds of thousands of DACA applications, a sign that the program is very popular across the country. In the wake of its implementation, DACA has raised interesting questions regarding the actual legal status of its recipients. While DACA suspends deportation proceedings, it does not grant legal status in the original sense of the term, and does not provide any sort of pathway towards become a permanent resident (green card holder) or a U.S. citizen.

This unique status held by DACA recipients has enabled the states to break new territory with regards to the in-state privileges they will provide to these foreign nationals. Most notably, the different states have been debating whether or not to allow DACA recipients to qualify for in-state tuition at colleges and universities.

Virginia has recently become the latest state to allow DACA recipients to qualify for in-state tuition, in a move that has greatly excited the state's foreign national student population. The Attorney General for Virginia, Mark Herring, announced the new policy this week while visiting Northern Virginia Community College. Attorney General Herring's statement that Virginia should welcome talented, smart, and hardworking students was met with much applause and support. At this time, there are approximately 8,100 DACA recipients living in Virginia who may take advantage of this opportunity.

In addition to addressing the crowd at the community college, Attorney General Herring also penned a letter to the presidents of Virginia's universities and the Virginia community college informing them of the state's policy.

Virginia's decision to allow for DACA recipients to qualify for in-state tuition will prove to be a wonderful opportunity for these students as many of the state's colleges, including the University of Virginia, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and the College of William and Mary, are considered some of the best in the nation and are highly ranked by U.S. News and World Report as well as the Princeton Review.

With this move, Virginia joins the nearly twenty other states who have policies in place to help foreign national qualify for in-state tuition rates such as Maryland, California, Minnesota, Nebraska, and New York.

Although several thousand eligible foreign nationals have applied and successfully received DACA protection, it is estimated that there are still thousands more who have filed their applications. Now that there are more opportunities for DACA recipients to qualify for in-state tuition, applying for DACA may be the best choice for a foreign national. Call our office at 650-293-0270 to speak to a member of our legal team about whether DACA is an appropriate option for your immigration needs.

Additional Blog Posts

Applying for an Immigration DREAM is actually a Complex Process, Silicon Valley Immigration Lawyer Blog, August 16, 2012
Reform Bill Increases Immigration Opportunities for Afghan Nationals, Silicon Valley Immigration Lawyer Blog, July 23, 2013

Immigration News / by Michelle Gee