The Federal government grants immigrants deferred status through DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and all states allow these qualified immigrants to enjoy differing levels of state-provided benefits. The most crucial benefits include the availability of driver’s licenses and in-state tuition prices for DACA recipients. The former is allowed in all states, but the latter is currently only available in a minority of states.
Driver’s licenses are perhaps the most important benefit a state can provide to a DACA grantee because it allows the individual to make the best use of their ability to apply for work authorization. Rules governing driver’s license requirements vary by state. The EAD (employment authorization document) that DACA recipients obtain is accepted in all states as proof of lawful presence for purposes of obtaining a driver’s license.
DACA recipients who receive an EAD can obtain a Social Security Number, which is another requirement for a driver’s license in almost all states. Although states will allow DACA recipients to apply for a driver’s license, the bottom line is that they must first apply for and obtain an employment authorization document.
Another issue that has arisen regarding DACA recipients is the cost of college tuition. In-state tuition rates are only available to undocumented students in a minority of states.
Effective May 20, 2003, Illinois allows undocumented students who reside in Illinois and meet certain requirements to pay the lower in-state tuition rate at public colleges and universities in Illinois. The student must have resided in Illinois while attending high school, have graduated from an Illinois high school or received a GED from Illinois, and must provide the university with an affidavit stating their intent to file an application to become a permanent resident of the U.S. when eligible to do so. While financial aid for DACA recipients is clearly the exception, hopefully, the trend towards allowing undocumented students to receive in-state tuition costs will become the norm.
The United States immigration and naturalization laws can be complicated. Everyone’s situation is different, and no one solution is correct for every person. The experienced immigration attorneys at JRQ & Associates can evaluate your situation and help you get the resolution that you need. Our immigration attorneys can assist in all states in the United States. Contact an experienced immigration lawyer at JRQ & Associates to set up your free immigration consultation or to find out more about the services we can provide you.