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DACA/Undocumented Student Resources

The following resources and information are for Montclair State University students who are undocumented and/or DACA recipients.

DACA Information and Resources

Here is the most recent information on DACA rulemaking and litigation via NAFSA: Association of International Educators:

Per USCIS’s DACA page:

“On Sept. 13, 2023, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas issued a decision finding the DACA Final Rule unlawful and expanding the original July 16, 2021 injunction and order of vacatur to cover the Final Rule. However, the court maintained a partial stay of the order for “all DACA recipients who received their initial DACA status prior to July 16, 2021.” See the Memorandum and Order (PDF, 1.35 MB) and Supplemental Order of Injunction (PDF, 72.53 KB).

Accordingly, current grants of DACA and related Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) remain valid until they expire, unless individually terminated.  In accordance with this decision, USCIS will continue to accept and process DACA renewal requests and accompanying applications for employment authorization under the DACA regulations at 8 CFR 236.22 and 236.23, as it has since October 31, 2022. We will also continue to accept initial DACA requests, but in accordance with the District Court’s order, we will not process initial DACA requests.

Current valid grants of DACA and related EADs will continue to be recognized as valid under the Final Rule. This means that individuals with DACA and related EADs do not have to submit a request for DACA or employment authorization until the appropriate time to seek renewal.

Please see the DACA Litigation Information Page for important updates and information related to court rulings on the DACA policy.”

“On August 30, 2022, DHS published a final DACA rule that went into effect on October 31, 2022.

However, a prior court-imposed order currently limits the October 31, 2022 effective date. USCIS describes this limitation in an update to its DACA FAQs:

“The final rule is effective Monday, October 31, 2022. However, while a July 16, 2021, injunction from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas remains in effect, DHS is prohibited from granting initial DACA requests and related employment authorization under the final rule. Because that injunction has been partially stayed, DHS presently may grant DACA renewal requests under the final rule.”

See USCIS’s web page DACA Litigation Information and Frequently Asked Questions for information on the limits on the new regulation, imposed by court injunctions.

On November 29, 2021, NAFSA had joined other higher education associations in a comment letter led by the American Council on Education (ACE), submitted in response to the September 28, 2021 proposed DACA rule published at 86 FR 53736 (September 28, 2021).

Partial summary of the final DACA rule

  • The final rule maintains the program’s existing eligibility criteria as established in 2012, and recipients would still receive 2 years of protection from removal (deferred action).
  • In response to public comment on the proposed rule, the final rule will retain “the existing requirement that DACA requestors file Form I-765 and Form I-765WS concurrently with the Form I-821 (“bundled process”) (under the proposed rule, applying for employment authorization would have been optional).  In both the current and final programs, applicants must establish economic need on Form I-765WS worksheet to qualify for work authorization.
  • In the final rule, ” DHS adopts the fee structure proposed in the NPRM of an $85 filing fee for Form I-821D, as well as a Form I-765 filing fee, currently set at $410.”
  • The new regulation “rescinds and replaces the DACA guidance set forth in the Memorandum issued by the Secretary of Homeland Security on June 15, 2012.” However the rule also provides that, “All current grants of deferred action and any ancillary features previously issued pursuant to the Memorandum remain in effect and will expire according to their existing terms. All such current grants of deferred action and any ancillary features, as well as any requests for renewals of those grants and new requests, are hereafter governed by this subpart and not the Memorandum.”

But see USCIS’s web page DACA Litigation Information and Frequently Asked Questions for information on the limits on the new regulation, imposed by court injunctions.

Threshold criteria under the final DACA rule

The final rule includes the following longstanding threshold criteria: that the requestor must have:

(1) come to the United States under the age of 16;

(2) continuously resided in the United States from June 15, 2007, to the time of filing of the request (“Brief, casual, and innocent absences from the United States will not break the continuity of one’s residence. However, unauthorized travel outside of the United States on or after August 15, 2012, will interrupt continuous residence, regardless of whether it was otherwise brief, casual, and innocent.” Other rules apply for “brief, casual, and innocent” for travel before August 15, 2012.);

(3) been physically present in the United States on both June 15, 2012, and at the time of filing of the DACA request;

(4) not been in a lawful immigration status on June 15, 2012, as well as at the time of request (“If the requestor was in lawful immigration status at any time before June 15, 2012, or at any time after June 15, 2012, and before the submission date of the request, he or she must submit evidence that that lawful status had expired or otherwise terminated prior to those dates.”)

(5) graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, obtained a GED certificate, currently be enrolled in school, or be an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;

(6) not been convicted of a felony, a misdemeanor described in the rule, or three or more other misdemeanors not occurring on the same date and not arising out of the same act, omission, or scheme of misconduct, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;

(7) been born on or after June 16, 1981, and be at least 15 years of age at the time of filing, unless the requestor is in removal proceedings, or has a final order of removal or a voluntary departure order; and

(8) Applications are determined on a case-by-case basis. “Even if the threshold criteria… are all found to have been met, USCIS retains the discretion to assess the individual’s circumstances and to determine that any factor specific to that individual makes deferred action inappropriate.”)

Update: Litigation

  • Update Summary:
    • In an October 14, 2022 order, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas (on remand) extended its July 16, 2021 injunction to cover DHS’s August 30, 2022 final DACA rule which is scheduled to become effective on October 31, 2022. The District Court summarized the state of its injunction: “DHS may continue to accept applications to the extent it has been ordered to do so by the court in Batalla Vidal v. Wolf, 16-CV4756, 2020 WL 7121849 (E.D.N.Y. Dec. 4, 2020), but it continues to be permanently enjoined from granting DACA status for any new applicants. For DACA recipients who obtained that status on or before the date of the Court’s permanent injunction (July 16, 2021), the DHS may accept and grant DACA renewal applications.”
    • In an October 5, 2022 decision, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a 2021 decision issued by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, and remanded the case to the district court to consider in light of DHS’s August 30, 2022 final DACA rule that is scheduled to go into effect on October 31, 2022. The district court had found that DHS’s 2012 DACA Memorandum and the DACA program that it created violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and it therefore vacated and enjoined the U.S. Government “from administering the DACA program and from reimplementing DACA without compliance with the APA.” The district court partially stayed its injunction for individuals who were already granted DACA, allowing them to continue in and extend their DACA status. However, the injunction prevents DHS from approving new applications for DACA. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision preserves this partial stay, and allows DHS to continue adjudicating DACA renewals while the District Court revisits the case. DHS will continue to be enjoined from approving new DACA applications.”

On September 28, 2021, DHS published a proposed DACA rule in the Federal Register. For details, see the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” proposed rule in the Federal Register.

“On September 10, 2021, the Department of Justice filed a notice of appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals seeking to overturn the Texas District Court’s ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen in favor of nine states led by Texas that found the creation of the DACA program violated federal administrative law.” (NAFSA: Association of International Educators)

On July 19, 2021, USCIS issued a Statement from USCIS Acting Director Tracy Renaud on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Court Decision:

“Pursuant to the July 16, 2021 Order issued by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Texas v. United States, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is enjoined from granting initial DACA requests.
All individuals whose DACA requests were granted prior to this decision will continue to have and be eligible to renew DACA, and to request and receive advance parole, consistent with the court’s order. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will provide additional specific operational guidance in the coming days.
USCIS is proud to play an important role in implementing DACA. DACA recipients are students, military service members, essential workers, and part of our communities in every way, shape, and form. USCIS will comply with the court order, continue to implement the components of DACA that remain in place, and work on publishing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking designed to strengthen and fortify DACA.”

On July 27, 2021, USCIS updated its DACA FAQs.

On July 16, 2021, Judge Hanen ruled that the 2012 DACA program begun by the Obama administration violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) notice and comment requirements, and that it was not in accordance with the Immigration and Nationality Act. The court therefore vacated the June 15, 2012 DHS memorandum that created it. The court also issued a nationwide injunction prohibiting DHS from approving new DACA applications (i.e., ‘those not already granted by the date of this order’). Although USCIS can continue to receive applications, it cannot approve them under the order. However, the injunction does not affect DACA benefits already granted, or renewal of already-granted DACA protection, including ancillary requests for DACA advance parole for those DACA recipients. Read the July 16, 2021 court order, and read the July 16, 2021 injunction order.” (NAFSA)

On January 20, 2021, President Biden signed a Presidential Memorandum that directed the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Attorney General, to ‘take all actions he deems appropriate, consistent with applicable law, to preserve and fortify DACA.’ See Memorandum for the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security, published in the Federal Register at 86 FR 7053 (January 25, 2021).” (NAFSA)

On December 4, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York ruled that “the Wolf Memorandum is VACATED. In light of the vacatur, all parties agree that the DACA program is currently governed by its terms as they existed prior to the attempted rescission of September 2017.” The judge’s December 4, 2020 order is in the case Batalla Vidal, et al. v. Nielsen, et al., Case # 1:16-cv-04756.

“in addition to vacating the Wolf Memorandum, the court orders the following relief:

  • DHS is DIRECTED to post a public notice, within 3 calendar days of this Order, to be displayed prominently on its website and on the websites of all other relevant agencies, that it is accepting first-time requests for consideration of deferred action under DACA, renewal requests, and advance parole requests, based on the terms of the DACA program prior to September 5, 2017, and in accordance with this court’s Memorandum & Order of November 14, 2020. The notice must also make clear that deferred action and employment authorization documents (“EADs”) granted for only one year are extended to two years, in line with the pre-Wolf Memorandum policy. The Government shall provide a copy of the notice to class counsel and to State Plaintiffs, and post it to the docket within 3 calendar days of this Order.”

On January 9, 2018, a U.S. District Court ordered the Department of Homeland Security to maintain the DACA program on a nationwide basis on the same terms and conditions as were in effect before the rescission on September 5, 2017, including allowing DACA enrollees to renew their enrollments.  However, new applications from applicants who have never before received deferred action will not be processed, and DHS may still deny the right of a DACA enrollee to return to the United States if they travel abroad using advance parole. For more information, please refer to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ website Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals: Response to January 2018 Preliminary Injunction. For guidance on DACA requests rejected by USCIS due to U.S. Postal Service issues, please refer to USCIS’s page Guidance on Rejected DACA Requests.

On August 3, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia again concluded “that DHS’s September 2017 decision to rescind the DACA program…was both subject to judicial review and arbitrary and capricious.” According to D.C. District Judge John D. Bates’ 25-page opinion, “The Court has already once given DHS the opportunity to remedy these deficiencies—either by providing a coherent explanation of its legal opinion or by reissuing its decision for bona fide policy reasons that would preclude judicial review—so it will not do so again.” The U.S. government appealed the Court’s decision.

On November 8, 2018, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision upholding and continuing the January 9, 2018 preliminary injunction granted by the District Court of the Northern District of California. The National Immigration Law Center explains that “In its decision, the court reasoned that the plaintiffs in the case were likely to prevail on their claim that the Trump administration’s termination of DACA was ‘arbitrary and capricious’ and therefore unlawful. All three judges also noted that there was sufficient evidence that DACA was ended due to anti-Mexican or anti-Latino animus to justify keeping the injunction in place.” It is likely that the U.S. federal government will seek review by the U.S. Supreme Court. Please refer to the NILC’s Status of Current DACA Litigation page for more information.

On June 18, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) held that the 2017 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memo rescinding DACA was “arbitrary and capricious” under the Administrative Procedure Act in its opinion on the case Department of Homeland Security et al. v. Regents of the University of California et al. This remanded the issue back to the DHS; the agency was required to consider again the “conspicuous issues of whether to retain forbearance and what if anything to do about the hardship to DACA recipients.” This decision left DACA intact for the time being.

On August 24, 2020, USCIS released implementing guidance (dated August 21, 2020) titled Implementing Acting Secretary Chad Wolf’s July 28, 2020 Memorandum, “Reconsideration of the June 15, 2020 Memorandum ‘Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children.'” This implementing guidance was summarized in the August 24, 2020 news alert  as follows:

“Under USCIS’ implementing guidance, we will reject all initial DACA requests from aliens who have never previously received DACA and return all fees. The rejections will be without prejudice, meaning aliens will be able to reapply should USCIS begin accepting new requests in the future from aliens who never before received DACA. USCIS will continue to accept requests from aliens who had been granted DACA at any time in the past and will also accept requests for advance parole that are properly submitted to the address specified on the Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-131 webpage.
For approvable DACA renewal requests, USCIS will limit grants of deferred action and employment authorization under DACA to no more than one year, but will not rescind any currently valid two-year grants of DACA or associated employment authorization documents (EADs), unless USCIS terminates an alien’s DACA for failure to continue to meet the DACA criteria (see 2012 Memorandum), including failure to warrant a favorable exercise of prosecutorial discretion. USCIS will replace two-year EADs that are lost, stolen or damaged with the same facial two-year validity period assuming the EAD replacement application is otherwise approvable.
USCIS will generally reject requests received more than 150 days before the current grant of DACA expires. DACA recipients should file their renewal request between 150 and 120 days before their current grant of DACA expires. USCIS will only grant advance parole for travel outside the United States to DACA recipients pursuant to the new guidance, which provides for a determination that parole of the alien is for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit in keeping with the governing statute. The agency will not rescind any previously granted advance parole documents unless there is another legal reason to do so. However, as has always been the case, parole into the United States is not guaranteed. In all cases, aliens are still subject to immigration inspection at a port-of-entry to determine whether they are eligible to come into the United States.
The determination whether to grant advance parole to an alien is entirely within the discretion of USCIS and must be made on a case-by-case basis. USCIS will review all the factors presented in individual cases before determining whether to approve advance parole for a DACA recipient based on the new guidance. Some examples of circumstances that may warrant approval include, but are not limited to, situations such as:
  • Travel to support the national security interests of the United States;
  • Travel to support U.S. federal law enforcement interests;
  • Travel to obtain life-sustaining medical treatment that is not otherwise available to the alien in the United States; or
  • Travel needed to support the immediate safety, wellbeing or care of an immediate relative, particularly minor children of the alien.
Even if a requestor establishes that their situation meets one of the examples above, USCIS may still deny the request for advance parole in discretion under the totality of the circumstances.
CAUTION: If you travel outside the United States on or after Aug. 15, 2012, without first receiving advance parole, your departure automatically terminates your deferred action under DACA.

If you currently have DACA approval or a pending DACA application, please speak to a licensed, experienced immigration attorney or recognized/accredited organization or representative before making any plans pertaining to work, travel, or applying for a DACA renewal. Among many options, CUNY CLEAR is an excellent resource for free legal services and guidance.

In addition, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) offers extensive, up-to-date information on DACA, including general advice and support and advocacy resources. The following NILC pages provide useful information:

For more in-depth, timely information on DACA, please refer to the NAFSA: Association of International Educators DACA Resource Page.

Travel Related to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

With regard to the September 5, 2017, memo from the DHS rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the following is recommended:

If you are an undocumented person (regardless of whether you currently have permission to travel abroad through advance parole), please speak to a licensed, experienced immigration attorney before making any travel plans. Among many options, CUNY CLEAR is an excellent resource for free legal services and guidance.


Tuition and Financial Aid for Undocumented Students

In-State Tuition under the NJ Dream Act

New Jersey residents who are undocumented under U.S. immigration law or who have been approved under DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services may qualify for in-state tuition under P.L. 2013, c. 170 (NJ Senate Bill 2479), the New Jersey Tuition Equality Act, also referred to as the “New Jersey Dream Act.” Under this law, undocumented students are exempt from paying out-of-state tuition if they meet all of the following criteria:

  1. Attended a New Jersey high school for three or more years;
  2. Graduated from a New Jersey high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma in New Jersey;
  3. Register as an entering student or are currently enrolled in a public institution of higher education not earlier than the fall semester of the 2013-2014 academic year; and
  4. In the case of a person without lawful immigration status, file the Affidavit of Intent to Legalize Immigration Status each year (as required by the state of New Jersey) with Montclair State University.

For more information and instructions on applying for in-state tuition, please visit: New Jersey Dream Act. Affidavits must be filed with Undergraduate Admissions or the Graduate School each year; for points-of-contact for these offices, please contact Elizabeth Gill, Director of International Employment and Immigration in the Office of University Counsel.

Financial Aid for Undocumented Students

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation (P.L. 2018, c. 12) granting eligible undocumented students access to NJ State Financial Aid. Please refer to New Jersey Dreamers for information about the bill and its requirements for qualifying for state aid.

In addition, the Scholarships That Do Not Require FAFSA web page contains a list of scholarships that do not require FASFA verification.

For financial aid questions pertaining to undocumented students, please contact Chandra Sakajani, or Rosemary Guichardo, Assistant Directors of Financial Aid.

Articles and Websites

The following articles and pages should prove helpful in staying abreast of issues pertaining to undocumented students:

Please keep in mind that the information contained on this page and in the advisories and pages listed above does not constitute legal advice. Please speak to a licensed, experienced immigration attorney if you require legal counsel.

Campus Conversation Groups

Conversations without Walls

This conversation group welcomes all immigrants and their allies to connect and share their experiences in a welcoming environment. We chat about university life and life in general — from our personal concerns to politics and global events — to understand and encourage each other and cope with the world around us. No sign-up is necessary.

For this semester’s schedule and details, view the flyer.

Connecting across Cultures

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) holds this informal, supportive discussion group for international students, students who have studied abroad, and any students who are interested in dialoguing and connecting across cultures. Visit the Connecting across Cultures page for more information.

Social Justice and Diversity Discussion Groups

The Office for Social Justice and Diversity hosts a number of discussion groups for undergraduate and graduate students who share similar identities to come together in a welcoming environment to build community, share experiences, and support one another. Visit the Office for Social Justice and Diversity Discussion Groups page for more information.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

Students who have individual concerns are encouraged to contact the Office of the Dean of Students, and they may also take advantage of the resources offered through Counseling and Psychological Services, including short-term individual counseling, group therapy, psychiatry, Let’s Talk walk-in sessions, and more. Contact information for CAPS is located here.