Tag Archives: university

DREAM Act heading for debate… glimmer of hope.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that he would attach the so-called “DREAM Act” to a Defense authorization bill expected to come before the Senate as early as next week.

While both Democrats and Republicans acknowledge a desperate need of reform, it will be interesting to see if Congress can get its Act (pun intended) together and transcend its bipartisan bickering and make something happen.

First introduced in 2001, the DREAM Act would address the plight of young immigrants who have been raised in the U.S. and managed to succeed despite the challenges of being brought to the U.S. without proper documentation. The proposal would offer a path to legal status to those who have graduated from high-school, have stayed out of trouble and plan to attend college or serve in the U.S. military for at least two years.

According to the Immigration Policy Center, research has shown that providing a legal status for young people who have a proven record of success in the United States would be a boon to the economy and the U.S. workforce.  University presidents and educational associations, as well as military recruiters, business and religious leaders have added their voice to those calling for passage of the bill. Foreign-born students represent a significant and growing percentage of the current student population. Unfortunately, immigration status and the associated barriers to higher education contribute to a higher-than-average high dropout rate, which costs taxpayers and the economy billions of dollars each year.

The DREAM Act would eliminate these barriers for many students, and the DREAM Act’s high school graduation requirement would provide a powerful incentive for students who might otherwise drop out to stay in school and graduate. This will help boost the number of high skilled American-raised workers.  As they take their place in the workplace as hard working, taxpaying Americans, they will contribute a lifetime of revenues at the local, state and federal level.

“DREAM ACT” Introduced in U.S. Senate and House

Some aspects of Immigration Reform are starting to materialize in Congress.

This week, Senators Durbin and Lugar introduced the DREAM Act  in the Senate while Representatives Berman and Diaz-Ballart did the same in the House.   Immediately below is background information on the DREAM Act.

DREAM Act
(based on prior Senate proposal in 2007)

Who is eligible?
Those who would qualify under this act include undocumented immigrants who meet ALL of the following criteria:

§         Graduated from a United States high school by the time they apply for relief.
§         Must have lived continuously in the United States for a minimum of 5 years, on the date of the DREAM Act enactment.
§         Entered the U.S. before the age of 16.
§         Under 30 years of age
§         Can demonstrate good moral character and do not have a criminal record.
§         Attended a college / university for 2 years, OR served in the US military for 2 years either before or after enactment.

What are the benefits for those who qualify?

§         Lawful permanent resident status (a green card)
§         Access to federal financial aid
§         States will be permitted to allow eligible students to obtain resident tuition status

Why is this necessary?

The DREAM Act would address the immigration status and educational barriers confronted by U.S.-raised children of undocumented immigrants.  (These statistics are from 2007 version of this information.)

§         Currently, there are 2.7 million immigrant children in U.S. schools grade K-12 and of those 1 million are undocumented immigrants.

§         Every year 50-65,000 students graduate from American high schools, but face limited prospects for continuing their education because they were originally brought to the United States by parents lacking immigration status. Among these students are valedictorians, honors students and student leaders.

§         Many students are prevented from attending college because they cannot afford out-of-state tuition and do not qualify for Pell grants or student loans. In addition, without a lawful permanent resident “green card” students are not eligible for many scholarships, in-state tuition, federal loans, or grants.

Have Children (on visas) about to graduate from High School?

While many of my Non-Immigrant Visa clients come to the United States with spouse and/or children in tow on dependent visas,parents need to be mindful of their children’s immigration status as they approach adulthood. Oddly enough,and to the astonishment of many clients, the critical age to watch is 21,not 18. Children, on turning 21, will lose their dependent visa status, and must now independently qualify for his or her own visa classification.

In cases where parents are in the United States on an employmentenabled status, the dependent children can attend schooling in the United States on their dependent status (until age 21), without having to hold F-1 foreign student status. This includes pre-school, elementary school, secondary school, vocational school, and college/university.

While the benefit of this at first glance may not be readily apparent,the real benefit is financial. Whether you choose to put your child(-ren) into a private or public school, is of consequence to you, as your child usually qualifies for free or subsidized (in-State rate) tuition rates. If, however, a student is attending a school or institution of higher learning in the U.S. as a foreign student on F-1 immigration status, the child oftentimes has to pay the full, unsubsidized cost of tuition, or be obligated to reimburse public schools for the cost of attendance. The difference in rates can be as much 400%.

As your child will turn 21, some serious immigration-planning needs to take place, taking the parents’ status into consideration, taking into consideration the child’s desire (or lack thereof) to attend post-secondary education and his/her career choices. An important aspect of “immigration-family planning” is the long-term consideration of applying for Lawful Permanent Residence (“Green Cards”) for the entire household. As a general rule, the Green Card should be applied for before the oldest child turns 21. This is a potentially tricky aspect of family-based immigration, as there is much regulation and case law surrounding Child Status protection. Having children “aging out” of a Green Card petition is often a heart-wrenching,unfortunate circumstance, that should be avoided if possible. Families with children 12 and over are always well-advised and encouraged to discuss these issues with an immigration lawyer.