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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 York1,124,000
First-Generation Immigrant Students169,000
Second-Generation Immigrant Students363,000
International Students126,782

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 Education26,962
Undocumented Students Graduating High School Each Year7,000

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 Education126,782
Economic Contributions of International Students in the State$5.8 billion
Jobs Supported by International Students in the State50,430
Optional Practical Training (OPT) Participants24,611

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 York4,484,500
Immigrant Share of Total Population22.8%
Undocumented Immigrants in State604,200
DACA-Eligible Residents in State43,900
Spending Power of DACA-Eligible Residents$1.5 billion
DACA-Eligible Residents Federal Tax Contributions$361.3 million
DACA-Eligible Residents State and Local Tax Contributions$258.9 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 Immigrants27.6%
Share of Nurses Who Are First-Generation Immigrants28.3%
Share of Health Aides Who Are First-Generation Immigrants55.7%
First-Generation Immigrant Faculty and Staff in Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools75,771
Share of First-Generation Immigrants With a Postsecondary Credential43%

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

    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.

Enacted Policies

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.

In-State Tuition

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:

  1. Attend at least two years of high school in New York;
  2. Graduate from a New York high school or receive a GED;
  3. Apply for attendance at an institution within 5 years of receiving a diploma;
  4. Show proof of residence in New York; and,
  5. 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.

State Financial Aid

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.

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

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 York, the following institutions are TheDream.US Partner Colleges:

  • Baruch College (Public)
  • Borough of Manhattan Community College (Public)
  • Bronx Community College (Public)
  • Brooklyn College (Public)
  • Farmingdale State College (Public)
  • Hostos Community College (Public)
  • Hunter College (Public)
  • John Jay College of Criminal Justice (Public)
  • Kingsborough Community College (Public)
  • LaGuardia Community College (Public)
  • Lehman College (Public)
  • Medgar Evers College (Public)
  • New York City College of Technology (Public)
  • Queens College (Public)
  • Queensborough Community College (Public)
  • Stella and Charles Guttman Community College (Public)
  • SUNY Old Westbury (Public)
  • The City College of New York (Public)
  • The College of Staten Island (Public)
  • University at Albany (Public)
  • York College (Public)
Professional & Occupational Licensure

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.

New York 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 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.

Narratives

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

  • Narrative

    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.

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  • Narrative

    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.

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  • Narrative

    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.

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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

    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

    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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