Logo for: President's Alliance Higher Education & Immigration

State Data

Higher education in the U.S. benefits from the participation of immigrant and international students. First and second-generation individuals comprise 31% of all students enrolled in higher education, a growing figure that underscores the importance of immigrant-origin students in the classroom and our workforce.

All Students in Higher Education in Arizona443,000
First-Generation Immigrant Students61,000
Second-Generation Immigrant Students97,000
International Students30,054

Note: First-generation immigrants were born abroad and immigrated to the U.S. Second-generation immigrants are U.S.-born individuals with at least one immigrant parent. First-generation immigrants include undocumented immigrants. First-generation immigrants do not include international students on a visa.

The U.S. is home to more than 408,000 undocumented students enrolled in higher education. In their pursuit of higher education, undocumented students actively ready themselves to fill critical skill shortages and become better positioned to support their families, communities, and the U.S. economy.

Undocumented Students in Higher Education9,570
DACA-Eligible Students in Higher Education5,095
Undocumented Students Graduating High School Each Year1,000

Note: Undocumented students are a sub-group of first-generation students.

International students comprise only 4 percent of all students in higher education, but provide significant economic, academic and cultural contributions that enrich learning, enrollment and funding opportunities for American students.

International Students in Higher Education30,054
Economic Contributions of International Students in the State$986.4 million
Jobs Supported by International Students in the State9,685
Optional Practical Training (OPT) Participants2,437

Note: Optional Practical Training participants are a subgroup of international students.

Immigrant residents, including undocumented immigrants and DACA-eligible residents, play an important role in the state's economy, contributing spending power and paying federal, state, and local taxes.

All Immigrant Residents in Arizona914,861
Immigrant Share of Total Population12.6%
Undocumented Immigrants in State215,298
DACA-Eligible Residents in State32,233
Spending Power of DACA-Eligible Residents$739.2 million
DACA-Eligible Residents Federal Tax Contributions$106.4 million
DACA-Eligible Residents State and Local Tax Contributions$100.8 million

Note: DACA-eligible residents are a sub-group of undocumented immigrant residents.

Higher education helps prepare all students, including immigrant and international students, to fill critical career and skills needs.

State Immigrant Workers Fill Critical Skills Needs
Share of STEM Workers Who Are First-Generation Immigrants19.1%
Share of Nurses Who Are First-Generation Immigrants12.0%
Share of Health Aides Who Are First-Generation Immigrants22.7%
First-Generation Immigrant Faculty and Staff in Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools15,315
Share of First-Generation Immigrants With a Postsecondary Credential59%

Note: First-generation immigrants were born abroad and immigrated to the U.S.

You can find additional state data, including by congressional district, in the following resources by immigrant population (AIC) and international students (NAFSA).

State Policies

Evaluating Access for Undocumented & Refugee Students

State policies in four key areas – in state tuition, state financial aid, professional and occupational licensure, and driver licenses – play an important role in expanding access to higher education and workforce development for undocumented students. The section below on in-state tuition also includes policies related to refugee students.

  • In-State Tuition & State Financial Aid Access and Affordability

    Accessible: Policies provide statewide access to in-state tuition for the state's undocumented students, including DACA recipients.

  • Professional & Occupational Licensure Workforce Entry & Eligibility

    No State Policy: No policies identified that actively expand access to occupational licensure for individuals who do not have legal immigration status.

  • Driver Licenses & Identification Mobility

    Restrictive: Policies do not provide the state's undocumented residents with access to driver licenses and state identification, but DACA recipients can still obtain a driver's license or state identification card.

Enacted Policies

Arizona provides eligible undocumented residents, including DACA recipients, with access to in-state tuition after the passage of Proposition 308.

Arizona does not provide undocumented residents with access to state financial aid, professional and occupational licensure, driver licenses and state identification.

 

In-State Tuition

Proposition 308, passed on November 14, 2022, allows the state’s undocumented students to access in-state tuition for all state universities and community colleges if:

  •  They spent at least two years attending an Arizona public or private high school or
    homeschool equivalent; and
  •  If they graduated from an Arizona public or private high school secured high school
    equivalency diploma in Arizona.

Colleges and universities in the state such as The University of Arizona and Arizona State University have published websites that outline processes for applying for in-state residency and provide potential applicants with information about accessing these benefits. A complete list of these websites for major institutions of higher education in the state appears here.

Refugee In-State Tuition: Refugee students are eligible for in-state tuition after meeting residency requirements. Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 15-1803 states that an alien is entitled to classification as an in-state student if the person has been granted refugee status in accordance with all applicable laws of the United States and has met all other requirements for domicile. 

State Financial Aid

 

Additional Financial Aid

TheDream.US is a national organization that offers scholarships to students with or without DACA or TPS attending eligible postsecondary institutions across the country. In Arizona, the following institutions are TheDream.US Partner Colleges:

  • Arizona State University (Public)
  • Phoenix College (Public)
  • Grand Canyon University (Private)
  • Northern Arizona University (Public)
  • University of Arizona (Public)
Professional and Occupational Licensure

Arizona does not affirmatively extend occupational and professional licensure to undocumented individuals. However, Arizona House Bill (H.B.) 2569, passed on April 10, 2019, allows reciprocity of professional licensure from out-of-state licensed professionals. More research is needed to determine whether this bill allows undocumented immigrants who have been licensed out-of-state to use their license in Arizona.

Arizona Professional Licensure Requirements & Business Registration

To learn more about professional/occupational licensure requirements, review TheDream.US & Immigrant Finance Resource guide here

To learn more about state business and tax registration requirements, review TheDream.US & Immigrant Finance Resource guide here. 

The information in these guides is based on outreach to the state’s specific licensing boards and each state’s business and tax agencies from April to July 2023 and is subject to change. To get up to date information on requirements, individuals should verify with the appropriate state agency. 

 

Driver Licenses

Undocumented immigrants in Arizona do not have access to a driver license or state identification card. The Arizona Department of Transportation requires non-citizens to provide an employment authorization document (EAD), an I-94 Arrival/Departure Form, or a Green Card to obtain a driver’s license.

DACA recipients in Arizona are allowed to obtain a driver license or state identification card. In August 2012, then-Governor Jan Brewer (R-AZ) instructed the DOT to stop issuing driver licenses to DACA recipients. A lawsuit filed on behalf of DACA recipients led to a federal court decision in December 2014 directing Arizona to provide DACA recipients with access to driver licenses. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal to the decision on March 19, 2018. Governor Doug Ducey (R-AZ) stated on January 23, 2019 that the state would stop appealing the ruling and provide individuals who have an EAD, including DACA recipients, with access to driver licenses and state identification.

Narratives

The following narratives highlight stories of immigrant, refugee, and international students, alumni, and scholars, including in their own words or as shared publicly.

  • Narrative

    Student Narrative: Oscar Hernandez Ortiz

    Oscar Hernadez Ortis is a fifth-grade teacher and potential law student. His life experience has allowed him to improve the lives of his students, their families, and to advocate for the permanent legalization of DACA holders, as he is a DACA recipient himself.

    Continue Reading
  • Narrative

    Student Narrative: Vianey de Anda

    Vianey De Anda from Arizona is the Civic Engagement Communications Director at Progress Now Arizona. She comes from an immigrant background andfights for immigrant communities to achieve the American Dream.

    Continue Reading
  • Narrative

    Student Narrative: “Veronica”

    “Veronica” helps coordinate virtual and in-office visits for patients at a medical practice. Learn about how she travels to different clinics and her thoughts on the separation of Dreamers and U.S Citizens in the medical field.

    Continue Reading

Effective Practices and State Resources

Spotlight on effective practices and policy, research, or community-based state resources.

  • Research

    Undocumented Students in Higher Education

    The new estimates show there are more than 408, 000 undocumented students enrolled in postsecondary education, representing about 1.9 percent of all postsecondary students. This estimate represents a decrease of 4.2 percent from 2019, when 427,000 undocumented students were enrolled.

    Continue Reading
  • Research

    Immigrant-Origin Students in U.S. Higher Education (Updated August 2023)

    The report’s findings reveal the growing proportion of first and second generation immigrant students in postsecondary education, the diversity of these students, and their importance for future U.S. labor growth.

    Continue Reading
  • Research

    Report: The Post-DACA Generation is Here

    A new report finds that an estimated 120,000 undocumented students will graduate from high school in 2023, with most of them not eligible for DACA. The new FWD.us report, published in May 2023, The Post-DACA Generation is Here, explains how DACA’s unavailability impacts undocumented youth in the U.S.

    Continue Reading