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 New Jersey as a Comprehensive Access 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 28% 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 Jersey||414,000|
|First-Generation Immigrant Students||69,000|
|Second-Generation Immigrant Students||146,000|
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 427,000 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||17,590|
|Undocumented Students Graduating High School Each Year||4,000|
Note: Undocumented students are a sub-group of first-generation students.
International students comprise only 5 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||18,946|
|Economic Contributions of International Students in the State||$700.1 million|
|Jobs Supported by International Students in the State||7,161|
|Optional Practical Training (OPT) Participants||15,396|
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 Jersey||2,077,801|
|Immigrant Share of Total Population||23.4%|
|Undocumented Immigrants in State||471,668|
|DACA-Eligible Residents in State||38,576|
|Spending Power of DACA-Eligible Residents||$744 million|
|DACA-Eligible Residents Federal Tax Contributions||$134.2 million|
|DACA-Eligible Residents State and Local Tax Contributions||$88.3 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||42.2%|
|Share of Nurses Who Are First-Generation Immigrants||27.5%|
|Share of Health Aides Who Are First-Generation Immigrants||52.6%|
|DACA recipients in STEM or Health Professions||2,141|
|First-Generation Immigrant Faculty and Staff in Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools||30,889|
|Share of First-Generation Immigrants With a Postsecondary Credential||60%|
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
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.
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.
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:
- Attend high school in New Jersey for three or more years;
- Graduate from a high school in New Jersey or received the equivalent of a high school diploma;
- Register as an entering student or is enrolled in a public institution of higher education no earlier than Fall 2013; and,
- 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.”
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 DACA and undocumented students attending eligible postsecondary institutions across the country. In New Jersey the following institutions are TheDream.US Partner Colleges:
- Rutgers University Newark; and,
- Rutgers University New Brunswick.
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.
Undocumented immigrants living in New Jersey are eligible to obtain a driver license. Assembly bill A. 4743, signed into law on December 19, 2019, allows the state’s undocumented residents to obtain a driver’s license or state identification card if they meet certain requirements. The law went into effect in January 2021.
DACA recipients in New Jersey are allowed to obtain a driver license or state identification card.
New Jersey is considering legislation to expand access to professional & occupational licensure for undocumented immigrants.
New Jersey Assembly Bill (A.B.) 2349, introduced on February 7, 2022, further expands New Jersey Senate Bill (S.B.) 2455, which states that lawful presence is not required to obtain a professional or occupational license. Under Assembly Bill (A.B.) 2349, all licensing bodies are prohibited from denying any professional or occupational licensure, certificates or registrations based on immigration status provided the individual meets all other licensure requirements.
The following narratives highlight stories of immigrant, refugee, and international students, alumni, and scholars, including in their own words or as shared publicly.
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.Continue Reading
Effective Practices and State Resources
Spotlight on effective practices and policy, research, or community-based state resources.
Report: Higher Education and Success for Undocumented Students Start with 9 Key Criteria
Higher Education is the key to achieving social & economic mobility in the U.S. The Education Trust analyzed 9 criteria in the 15 states with the largest shares of undocumented college students to determine whether state policies are helping or hurting undocumented students’ ability to access & complete college.Continue Reading
Report: The Post-DACA Generation is Here
A new report finds that an estimated 100,000 undocumented students will graduate from high school in 2022, with most of them not eligible for DACA. The new FWD.us report, published in May 2022, The Post-DACA Generation is Here, explains how DACA’s unavailability impacts undocumented youth in the U.S.Continue Reading
Undocumented Students in Higher Education (Updated March 2021)
More than 427,000 undocumented students in the U.S. are enrolled in higher education, including 181,000 DACA-eligible individuals.Continue Reading