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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 Utah269,000
First-Generation Immigrant Students17,000
Second-Generation Immigrant Students32,000
International Students10,019

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 Education4,532
DACA-Eligible Students in Higher Education1,806
Undocumented Students Graduating High School Each Year1,000

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 Education10,019
Economic Contributions of International Students in the State$302.6 million
Jobs Supported by International Students in the State2,692
Optional Practical Training (OPT) Participants1,130

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 Utah278,724
Immigrant Share of Total Population8.4%
Undocumented Immigrants in State88,204
DACA-Eligible Residents in State11,855
Spending Power of DACA-Eligible Residents$289.5 million
DACA-Eligible Residents Federal Tax Contributions$54.3 million
DACA-Eligible Residents State and Local Tax Contributions$29.1 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 Immigrants10.20%
First-Generation Immigrant Faculty and Staff in Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools7,817
Share of First-Generation Immigrants With a Postsecondary Credential55%

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

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

In-State Tuition

Utah House Bill (H.B.) 144, signed into law on March 26, 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 a high school in Utah for three or more years;
  2. Graduate from a Utah high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma (GED) before the start of the school term;
  3. Have not registered for classes prior to the 2002-2003 academic year; and,
  4. Submit an affidavit stating that the student will file an application to legalize immigration status or be willing to file an application when eligible.

Universities will likely require an HB 144 Tuition Waiver Request and will only consider applicants that cannot hold a non-immigrant visa.

Senate Bill (S.B. 111), signed into law on March 30, 2020, reaffirms that undocumented students are able to pay in-state tuition if they file an affidavit with the institution of higher education stating that they have filed an application to legalize their immigration status or will file an application as soon as they are eligible to do so.

The Utah Board of Higher Education unanimously approved a resolution on March 26, 2021 in support of the state’s undocumented and DACA-eligible students. The resolution states, “We embrace and celebrate the diverse cultures, backgrounds, and insights Dreamers, undocumented and DACA-eligible individuals contribute, which elevate the experiences of all students, faculty, staff, and community.” It directs the Utah Board of Higher Education to collaborate with colleges and universities and K-12 partners to, “expand dedicated resources and streamline processes, including but not limited to admissions and enrollment, that support Dreamers, undocumented, and DACA-eligible individuals.”

Refugee In-State Tuition: According to the Utah System of Higher Education Sec R512 an international student who has obtained asylee or refugee status under U.S. immigration law shall be classified for purposes of resident status according to the same criteria applicable to citizens.

 Utah H.B. 102 introduced by Representative Jordan Teuscher passed both the Utah house and senate legislature unanimously this session. This bill allows refugees, SIVs, asylees, asylum seekers, and TPS holders to access in-state tuition rates at Utah colleges and Universities. The Utah Governor signed the Bill Mar 13, 2023.

State Financial Aid

Utah Senate Bill (S.B.) 253, signed into law on March 2015, allows eligible undocumented students, including DACA recipients, to access privately-funded scholarships administered by public universities, regardless of their immigration status.

Utah 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 Utah, the following institution is a TheDream.US Partner College:

  • The University of Utah (Public)
  • Weber State University (Public)
Professional & Occupational Licensure

The Utah Supreme Court ruled on December 9, 2019 in Rule 14-721 that DACA recipients are eligible for admission to the Utah Bar if they meet all other requirements for admission.

Utah Senate Bill (S.B.) 131, signed into law on March 31, 2015, allows individuals to obtain an occupational therapy license if they have been licensed in another state, U.S. territory, or foreign country and the individual passes the state’s licensing exam. More research is needed to determine whether this bill allows undocumented immigrants who have obtained an occupational therapy license out-of-state to obtain a license in Utah.

Utah 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 Utah are eligible to obtain a driving privilege card. Senate Bill (S.B.) 227, signed into law on March 8, 2005, allows the state’s undocumented residents to receive a driving privilege card if they do not have a Social Security Number (SSN). Applicants for a driving privilege card must submit documents verifying their identity and Utah residence, and fingerprints to check against local, state, and regional criminal records. The cards must be renewed every year.

DACA recipients in Utah 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.

    Continue Reading
  • 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.

    Continue Reading
  • 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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