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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 Mexico106,000
First-Generation Immigrant Students8,000
Second-Generation Immigrant Students16,000
International Students2,633

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 Graduating High School Each Year<1,000

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 Education2,633
Economic Contributions of International Students in the State$71.7 million
Jobs Supported by International Students in the State543
Optional Practical Training (OPT) Participants331

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 Mexico192,400
Immigrant Share of Total Population9.1%
Undocumented Immigrants in State45,600

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 First-Generation Immigrants With a Postsecondary Credential22%

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

    Accessible: Policies allow undocumented individuals to obtain occupational licensure in one or more 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 Mexico provides eligible undocumented residents, including DACA recipients, with access to in-state tuition, state financial aid, professional and occupational licensure in at least most professions, and driver licenses.


In-State Tuition

New Mexico Senate Bill (S.B.) 582, signed into law on April 8, 2005, 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. Have attended a New Mexico middle school or high school for at least one year; and,
  2. Have either graduated from a New Mexico high school or received their GED in New Mexico.

Refugee In-State Tuition: Residency requirements state that refugees who are lawfully in the U.S., have obtained permanent status from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), or non-citizens serving active duty in the armed forces of the U.S may establish residency for tuition purposes.

State Financial Aid

New Mexico Senate Bill (S.B.) 582 provides eligible undocumented students, including DACA recipients, with access to state financial aid. The bill extends access to state financial aid to all residents of New Mexico on the same terms and regardless of immigration status, provided they meet the criteria for in-state tuition.

New Mexico only extends financial aid to public postsecondary institutions.

New Mexico Senate Bill (S.B.) 140, also known as “The Opportunity Scholarship Act,” signed into law on March 4, 2022, makes state aid available to cover all tuition costs for New Mexico undergraduates seeking a trade certificate, associate degree or bachelor’s degree in an in-state public college or university. Undocumented students appear eligible for this proposed program. Students must meet certain requirements to qualify, including:

  1. Has not earned a bachelor’s degree at the time the scholarship is awarded; 
  2. Is enrolled in a minimum of six credit hours per semester; 
  3. Maintains a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 of a 4.0 scale; and 
  4. Has complied with other rules promulgated by the department to carry out provisions of the Opportunity Scholarship Act.
Professional & Occupational Licensure

New Mexico allows individuals to obtain professional and occupational licensure in at least most occupations regardless of their immigration status. 

New Mexico Senate Bill (S.B.) 137, passed on February 18, 2020, establishes that a person is eligible for occupational or professional licensure for which that person is qualified, regardless of the person’s citizenship or immigration status. The bill applies to professions or occupations that do not statutorily require a specific type of immigration status, including teachers, dental hygienists, doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists.

New Mexico Senate Bill (S.B.) 219, signed into law on April 6, 2021, removes immigration status requirements for a number of professional and occupational licenses not included in previous legislation. S.B. 219 removes statutory immigration status requirements to professional licenses, opening up positions like optometrists, physical therapists, real estate agents, and home inspectors to individuals regardless of immigration status. Applicants without a Social Security Number (SSN) can provide an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) when seeking a professional license.

New Mexico 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 living in New Mexico are eligible to obtain a driver license. House Bill (H.B.) 99, as amended by Senate Bill (S.B.) 278 on April 2, 2019, allows the state’s undocumented residents to access a standard driver license as an alternative to a Real ID driver license. Applicants must provide proof of identity, age, and state residence to access the driver license.

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

Effective Practices and State Resources

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

  • 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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  • Research

    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.

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