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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 New Jersey536,000
First-Generation Immigrant Students85,000
Second-Generation Immigrant Students150,000
International Students21,985

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 Education18,834
DACA-Eligible Students in Higher Education4,881
Undocumented Students Graduating High School Each Year6,000

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 Education21,985
Economic Contributions of International Students in the State$861.9 million
Jobs Supported by International Students in the State8,200
Optional Practical Training (OPT) Participants15,396

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 New Jersey2,137,227
Immigrant Share of Total Population23.1%
Undocumented Immigrants in State478,193
DACA-Eligible Residents in State28,712
Spending Power of DACA-Eligible Residents$721.4 million
DACA-Eligible Residents Federal Tax Contributions$127.6 million
DACA-Eligible Residents State and Local Tax Contributions$87.7 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 Immigrants42.0%
Share of Nurses Who Are First-Generation Immigrants29.7%
Share of Health Aides Who Are First-Generation Immigrants49.0%
DACA recipients in STEM or Health Professions2,141
First-Generation Immigrant Faculty and Staff in Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools30,889
Share of First-Generation Immigrants With a Postsecondary Credential45%

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

    Comprehensive Access: Policies provide statewide access to in-state tuition and some state financial aid or scholarships for the state's resident DACA recipients and undocumented students.

  • Professional & Occupational Licensure Workforce Entry & Eligibility

    Comprehensive Access: Policies allow individuals to obtain occupational licensure in all professions regardless of their immigration status, provided that they meet all other requirements.

  • Driver Licenses & Identification Mobility

    Accessible: Policies provide the state’s undocumented residents with access to driver licenses and/or state identification regardless of their immigration status, but these are not REAL ID compliant.

Enacted Policies

New Jersey provides eligible undocumented residents, including DACA recipients, with access to in-state tuition, state financial aid, professional and occupational licenses, and driver licenses and state identification.

In-State Tuition

New Jersey Senate Bill (S.) 2479, signed into law on December 20, 2013, provides eligible undocumented students, including DACA recipients, with access to in-state tuition. Students must meet certain requirements to access in-state tuition, including:

  1. Attend high school in New Jersey for three or more years;
  2. Graduate from a high school in New Jersey or received the equivalent of a high school diploma;
  3. Register as an entering student or is enrolled in a public institution of higher education no earlier than Fall 2013; and,
  4. Files an affidavit to the college or university stating that the student has filed an application to legalize their lawful status or will file an application when eligible.

New Jersey Senate Bill (S.) 3119, signed into law on January 10, 2022, expands access to in-state tuition to students who hold a T visa for victims of human trafficking, an U visa for victims of criminal activity who are helpful to law enforcement, or dependent students whose parent or guardian holds an O-1 or O-2 visa for specialty occupations or extraordinary abilities. Students must meet the same criteria required for in-state tuition under S. 2479.

Refugee In-State Tuition: The New Jersey Administrative Code (N.J.A.C. 9A:5–1.1) is silent regarding immigration status but requires students to meet a 12-month residency requirement to be eligible for in-state tuition at institutions of higher education. For county community colleges, the Code provides: “To qualify for county resident tuition at county community colleges, a student must meet the requirements of N.J.A.C. 9A:5–1 regarding State residency and domicile. In addition, a student must have permanent residency in the county or counties sponsoring the college before first enrolling at the college, as documented by a certificate of residence or such other material as the institution deems necessary.”

State Financial Aid

New Jersey Senate Bill (S.) 699, signed into law on May 9, 2018, provides the state’s undocumented students, including DACA recipients, with access to state financial aid. Undocumented students must meet the same criteria required for in-state tuition under S. 2479 to access state financial aid.

New Jersey S. 3119, signed into law on January 10, 2022, expands access to state financial aid to students who hold a T visa, an U visa, or are dependent students whose parent or guardian holds an O-1 or O-2 visa.

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 New Jersey the following institutions are TheDream.US Partner Colleges:

  • Rutgers University Newark (Public)
  • Rutgers University New Brunswick (Public)
  • New Jersey City University (Public)
  • Rowan University (Public)

New Jersey extends financial aid to both public and private postsecondary institutions.

Professional & Occupational Licensure

New Jersey allows individuals to obtain professional and occupational licensure regardless of their immigration status.

New Jersey Senate Bill (S.) 2455, signed into law on September 1, 2020, removes the requirement for lawful presence in the U.S. as a qualification for obtaining professional or occupational licenses. There are more than 200 jobs in New Jersey that require a license, including teaching and nursing.

New Jersey 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 residing in New Jersey became eligible to obtain a driver’s license or state identification card with the enactment of Assembly Bill A. 4743 on December 19, 2019. This law, which went into effect in January 2021, allows the state’s undocumented residents to obtain these documents if they meet certain requirements.

DACA recipients in New Jersey are allowed to obtain a driver license or state identification card.


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

  • Narrative

    Alumni Narrative: Kavita

    Kavita Ramdas came to the U.S. from India as an international student, becoming a leader on gender and women's rights.

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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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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