This state page integrates student data, economic contributions, state policies, effective practices, and other resources to learn about and better support the state’s undocumented, other immigrant, and international students in higher education.
We classify Arizona as a Accessible state in terms of inclusive in-state tuition and state financial aid policies for undocumented students. The Portal tracks state policies for undocumented students on in-state tuition, state financial aid, professional and occupational licensure, and driver licenses.
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 Arizona||582,000|
|First-Generation Immigrant Students||37,000|
|Second-Generation Immigrant Students||75,000|
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 Education||9,480|
|Undocumented Students Graduating High School Each Year||2,000|
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 Education||25,677|
|Economic Contributions of International Students in the State||$778.1 million|
|Jobs Supported by International Students in the State||8,449|
|Optional Practical Training (OPT) Participants||2,437|
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 Arizona||972,110|
|Immigrant Share of Total Population||13.4%|
|Undocumented Immigrants in State||247,528|
|DACA-Eligible Residents in State||36,909|
|Spending Power of DACA-Eligible Residents||$617.9 million|
|DACA-Eligible Residents Federal Tax Contributions||$93.6 million|
|DACA-Eligible Residents State and Local Tax Contributions||$87.3 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 Immigrants||20.5%|
|Share of Nurses Who Are First-Generation Immigrants||13%|
|Share of Health Aides Who Are First-Generation Immigrants||24.7%|
|First-Generation Immigrant Faculty and Staff in Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools||15,315|
|Share of First-Generation Immigrants With a Postsecondary Credential||38%|
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).
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.
Arizona provides eligible undocumented residents, including DACA recipients, with access to in-state tuition after the passage of Proposition 308.
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.
Additional Financial Aid
TheDream.US is a national organization that offers scholarships to DACA and undocumented students attending eligible postsecondary institutions across the country. In Arizona, the following institutions are TheDream.US Partner Colleges:
- Arizona State University;
- Arizona State University Online;
- Benedictine University; and,
- Grand Canyon University.
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 the licensure & business registration requirements, review TheDream.US & Immigrant Finance Resource Guide. The information in the guide is based on outreach to the state’s specific licensing boards from April to July 2023 and is subject to change. To get up to date information on licensure application requirements, individuals should verify this information with the licensing board.
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.
The following narratives highlight stories of immigrant, refugee, and international students, alumni, and scholars, including in their own words or as shared publicly.
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
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
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.
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
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
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