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 York 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 York||1,250,000|
|First-Generation Immigrant Students||163,000|
|Second-Generation Immigrant Students||326,000|
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||25,296|
|DACA-Eligible Students in Higher Education||7,932|
|Non-DACA Eligible Students in Higher Education||17,364|
|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||113,666|
|Economic Contributions of International Students in the State||$4.9 billion|
|Jobs Supported by International Students in the State||45,482|
|Optional Practical Training (OPT) Participants||24,611|
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 York||4,356,713|
|Immigrant Share of Total Population||22.4%|
|Undocumented Immigrants in State||676,105|
|DACA-Eligible Residents in State||63,216|
|Spending Power of DACA-Eligible Residents||$1.411 billion|
|DACA-Eligible Residents Federal Tax Contributions||$301.3 million|
|DACA-Eligible Residents State and Local Tax Contributions||$232.4 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||25.2%|
|Share of Nurses Who Are First-Generation Immigrants||29.3%|
|Share of Health Aides Who Are First-Generation Immigrants||55.7%|
|DACA recipients in STEM or Health Professions||2,495|
|DACA recipients in Education (K-12, Higher Education, Education Industry)||2,741|
|First-Generation Immigrant Faculty and Staff in Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools||81,947|
|Share of First-Generation Immigrants With a Postsecondary Credential||50%|
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
Limited: Policies allow individuals with work authorization, such as DACA recipients, to obtain occupational licensure in one or more professions that require licensure.
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 York provides eligible undocumented residents, including DACA recipients, with access to in-state tuition, state financial aid, and driver licenses. DACA recipients can also access certain professional and occupational licenses.
New York Assembly Bill (A.B.) 9612, signed into law on June 25, 2002, 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 at least two years of high school in New York;
- Graduate from a New York high school or receive a GED;
- Apply for attendance at an institution within 5 years of receiving a diploma;
- Show proof of residence in New York; and,
- File an affidavit declaring that the student will file for legal status when able.
The State University of New York’s (SUNY) policy on Residency, Establishment of for Tuition Purposes Section C states that “students admitted as refugees, or granted asylum, or granted withholding of deportation or removal” have access to in-state tuition. Students with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) also have access to in-state tuition at SUNY.
Refugee In-State Tuition: SUNY residency policy states that refugees and asylees may also reside permanently in the United States. Students submitting proof of refugee or asylee status or application pending status should be treated as immigrant aliens and permitted to provide evidence of a New York State domicile. It should be noted that a person whose evidence of Refugee or Asylum status has expired is nevertheless eligible for in-state tuition.
New York Assembly Bill (A.B.) 782, signed into law on April 12, 2019, 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 Assembly Bill (A.B) 9612 to access state financial aid.
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 York, the following institutions are TheDream.US Partner Colleges:
- Baruch College;
- Borough of Manhattan Community College;
- Bronx Community College;
- Brooklyn College;
- College of Staten Island;
- Hostos Community College;
- Hunter College;
- John Jay College of Criminal Justice;
- Kingsborough Community College;
- LaGuardia Community College;
- Lehman College;
- Medgar Evers College;
- New York City College of Technology;
- Queens College;
- Queensborough Community College;
- Stella and Charles Guttman Community College;
- The City College of New York; and,
- The City University of New York.
The New York State Education Department (NYSED) Board of Regents adopted regulations in May 2016 to allow DACA recipients with valid work authorization to apply for teaching certifications and 55 other professional licenses granted by the Department.
New York’s Supreme Court ruled in June 2015 in Matter of Vargas that DACA recipients may be admitted to the state bar to practice law.
Undocumented immigrants living in New York are eligible to obtain a driver’s license. Assembly Bill (A.B) 3675, signed into law on June 17, 2019, allows the state’s undocumented residents to obtain a driver license if they provide proof of identity, age, and a Social Security Number (SSN) or an affidavit stating they have not been issued an SSN, among other requirements. The bill includes confidentiality and privacy provisions.
DACA recipients in New York are allowed to obtain a driver’s license or state identification card.
New York is considering legislation that would affirmatively extend access to professional and occupational licensure to undocumented residents.
New York Assembly Bill (A.B) 1952, introduced on January 13, 2021, and New York Senate Bill (S.B.) 3046, introduced on January 27, 2021, known as the Empire State Licensing Act (ESLA), are companion bills that would provide all New York residents with access to professional, occupational, commercial, or business licenses, permits, certificates, or related registrations regardless of an applicant’s citizenship or immigration status. The bills were not enacted; however, they may be re-introduced in the new legislative session in 2023.
New York Assembly Bill (A.B) 6328, introduced on March 16, 2021, prohibits an employer or licensing agency to refuse to employ or to bar from employing an individual because of the individual’s citizenship or immigration status, as well as age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, and other considerations.
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: Dayann Pazmino
Dayann Pazmino is an immigrant rights activist who gathers and shares information with her community to help educate them about the current state of DACA so they know what their options are. This post is about her mission and the resources she provides for undocumented immigrants.Continue Reading
Student Narrative: Areli Morales Romero
Originally from Mexico, Areli Morales Romero works as a substitute teacher for New York City public schools and is a children’s book author. Through her teaching and writing, she fights to shed light on the immigration issues that impact everyday classrooms and how to help teachers create safe spaces for all students.Continue Reading
Student Narrative: Francisco Barros Mesias
Francisco Barros Mesias is an Electrical Engineering graduate from CCNY and the first in his family to have received a bachelor’s degree. He is now an Electrical Engineer with Robert Derector Associates in NY. His work helps ensure that everyone around the globe should have access to clean water and wastewater treatment.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
The Economic Benefits of the Empire State Licensing Act
This brief from the American Immigration Council highlights the critical role that immigrants and refugees play in New York’s workforce and the need to reduce barriers to professional and occupational licenses.Continue Reading