Troubleshooting Undocumented Student Access to Education

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Frequently asked questions on AB540 and undocumented students' college admissions process.

Contents

[edit] Application

The college online application is not letting me leave certain fields empty.
Check KRC's website for instructions.
When the college website doesn't let me leave immigration status questions empty, does it mean that the college do not accept undocumented students?
No, it's a technical glitch. It has nothing to do with policy. If the application doesn't work at all, just file the paper application and leave the fields empty.
Why do I have to leave fields empty? Will the school deport me if they find out?
It's mostly out of convenience. It doesn't really matter that the school finds out whether or not you are undocumented, but sometimes school officers take it on their own hands and try to discriminate against you. You leave these empty to avoid unnecessary hardships.
Can I write my ITIN number in the SSN box?
No. You should never use your ITIN number in lieu of SSN except when it's explicitly stated that you can enter either one of them.

[edit] Dealing with Denials

I've heard UCSD doesn't let undocumented students in anymore.
That's not true. All California public colleges (UCs, CSU, CCs) must allow undocumented students in. UCSD tried to discriminate against visa overstayers and they lost that fight, and had to let everyone in again.
Does my local community college allow undocumented students? Everyone tells me they don't.
Yes, they do. If they tell you that you cannot attend because of your undocumented immigration status, please report to KRC at yongho@krcla.org or 323-937-3718
My college told me that I need to apply for an F1 visa before enrolling.
They either think that you do have legal status, or don't know about AB540. Tell them that you are an AB540 student. (It's probably not safe to say that you are undocumented in public, but you can always say "AB540".) If they do not understand what that means, ask to talk with the officer who handles AB540 students. If they don't have one, contact KRC.
They told me that I need to show proof of having applied for legal status before getting AB540.
They misinterpreted the AB540 law. Explain them that the applicant only needs to sign the AB540 form. If they don't get it, contact KRC.
My college asks for proof that my parents are legal residents.
The college only needs to see two things before giving you the AB540 exemption: 1) the signed AB540 form and 2) your high school transcript. A community college may ask you to show proof that you lived in California ( e.g. utility bills). In fact, AB540 doesn't require your parents to be legal residents. Explain them this, and if they do not get it, contact KRC.

[edit] Financial Aid

Can I file the FAFSA?
The FAFSA is for USC and LPR to apply for federal financial aid. You should not file it. The only exception is when requested by school officers in full knowledge that you are an AB540 student, with the purpose of determining your income and EFC (Expected Family Contribution). You could, however, file the California Dream Act Application at: http://www.csac.ca.gov/dream_act.asp
Can I get financial aid?
Yes, undocumented students could now get state funded financial aid with the California Dream Act (ab130/ab131) passed. It has two parts which consists of:

(AB130): With this law, even though the student may be an undocumented AB540 student, they would be eligible for scholarship that was sent by private organizations or sources to the school. Every school has a scholarship resource center in which students could now ask about private scholarships that were donated to the school.

(AB131): California Dream Act Application is also available to apply. The law is for AB540 eligible students, so that they could receive financial aid from the state (including Cal Grants). This website (http://www.csac.ca.gov/dream_act.asp) is for the online application.

Also, tell your admissions counselor that you are an AB540 student and ask if there are financial aid options available for you.

Can I apply for scholarships?
Yes. Yes. Thanks to the passage of the California Dream Act (ab130) even though the student may be an undocumented AB540 student, they would be eligible for scholarship that was sent by private organizations or sources to the school. Every school has a scholarship resource center in which students could now ask about private scholarships that were donated to the school.

Also, most scholarships require the recipient to be a USC or LPR. However, MALDEF compiled a list of scholarships that are provided regardless of immigration status, and it's available at KRC's websiteMost scholarships require the recipient to be a USC or LPR. However, MALDEF compiled a list of scholarships that are provided regardless of immigration status, and it's available at KRC's website.

Can I get loans?
Yes, but you need a USC co-signer and you will incur in higher interest rates.
Can I apply to EOP (Educational Opportunity Program)? Can I get an application fee waiver?
No, it's for USC and LPR only.

[edit] AB540 Eligibility

I entered with a B2 visa. Am I undocumented?
If your visa expired, then you are undocumented. Normally, your B2 visa expires after the 6 months of allowed stay.
I have a valid E2 visa. Can I get AB540?
No. However, ask your school if you are able to claim residency with your current immigration status. (This procedure is not related to AB540, and KRC does not provide help.)
I am undocumented but I am applying for LPR. I am almost done, did fingerprinting, etc. Am I undocumented?
Most likely, you are undocumented until you actually obtain status. Check with your immigration case attorney to see what your current status is.
I am a citizen. I need the AB540 because I was out of state for my senior year. Do I qualify?
Yes. In fact, over 63% of UC's AB540 students during 2005-06 are confirmed to have legal status.

[edit] Private Schools

Can I apply to private schools?
I heard of a couple cases where undocumented students were able to enroll in a private college. Most of the time, undocumented high school students need to work part time and their grades aren't high enough. If your school records are competitive, you should apply to the school, request financial aid as a foreign student, and after you are accepted, tell them that you are undocumented and ask for their advice. Normally, private colleges will try to issue you I-20s to have you file for F1 visas. You need to explain them that you are ineligible to obtain an F1 visa.
Can I get financial aid from private schools?
Not all of them, but some private colleges offer financial aid to foreign students. In many cases, undocumented students may qualify for this same pool. Some private schools in California that offer financial aid to foreign students are the Claremont Colleges (Pomona, Harvey Mudd) and Cal Tech. For more options, you should look to the Midwest and the East Coast. College Board's "International Student Handbook" gives you a good sense of how much financial aid is available in each school

[edit] Other Aspects

Is the AB540 a legal loophole?
No. AB540 is a state law passed in 2002 that recognizes the fact that undocumented immigrant students have been educated through California's education system over the lives and have much to contribute America. However, it creates a legal loophole to federal law (see Martinez v. Regents).
Do I have to reapply every year?
You apply once, and there is no limit in the number of years you can receive AB540 exemption. But if you transfer schools, you must re-submit an AB540 application.
The SAT registration form requires a SSN.
Leave it empty.
I can't get a CSSID (California Student ID), because I don't have SSN.
Leave it empty.
I am undocumented, but I have a SSN (from back when I had status)
Leave the SSN empty.
Can I go to graduate school?
AB540 applies to public graduate schools. However, there seem to be limits on admissions. KRC is still researching this aspect.
Can I write that I am a USC so that I can get my application fees waived?
You should not write false information in the college application, or anywhere else. Lying about your immigration status could make you deportable, and may count against you if there is a future opportunity for legalization.

[edit] Case Studies

Undocumented students face many hurdles in attending college. While there is the AB540 law in California and there are hopes for the DREAM Act, undocumented students are often given misleading information and discouraging words from school and admissions counselors.

This section documents various problems faced by undocumented students served at the Korean Resource Center and their solutions.


[edit] UC System SSN Request

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UC System SSN Request Letter

AB540 students applying to the UC system will receive a form letter during December from the "University of California Undergraduate Application Processing Service" (P.O. Box 4010, Concord, CA 94524-4010).

This letter can be ignored, as it is a formality. Students get their admissions decisions later on regardless of responding to this letter. The following is a quote of the UC Office of the President:

Please note that while the online application and the central processor will prompt students to fill in missing information, the application will continue to be processed without this information

[edit] UC Application Acknowledgment Letter

This is what the letter looks like:

University of California Undergraduate Application Acknowledgment

12/01/06 DF

Dear Applicant,

We are pleased that you have chosen to apply to the University of California. Please verify the accuracy of the information shown on this page, follow all instructions, and be sure to read the reverse side of this form. It is important for you to keep a copy of this form for your records. You must refer to your Application ID Number when contacting the University about your admission application. Keep this number secure; it is unique to you and allows you to access your confidential information.

Application ID Number: XXXXXX

  • Social Security Number:
  • US Citizen:
  • Gender: MALE
  • Birthdate: 12/34/56
  • Phone Number: (123) 456-7890
  • Email Address: DUMMY@DUMMYHOST.COM

You have applied to the following campus(es) in the major(s) indicated below. If an asterisk (*) prints next to your campus choice, your application has not been sent to that campus for review. If any critical item is missing, your application has not been sent to any campus for review.

  • Applicant Category: FRESHMAN
  • Term Applied To: FALL QUARTER 2007 AND/OR FALL SEMESTER 2007
  • Current or Last SChool Attended Code: 123456 School Name: XXXXXXX High School
  • Dates of Attendance: From: 09/03 To: 01/07
  • Messages: Your SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER and CITIZENSHIP RESPONSE were missing from your application. Please enter the required information in the appropriate space(s) and return this form by 12/26/06.

[edit] UCSD's Attempt to Deny Admissions to Visa Overstayers (2007)

During the Summer of 2007, UCSD was rejecting AB540 applicants on the basis that those who let their visas expire will not be able to legalize. The Korean Resource Center, in collaboration with LAFLA, NILC and NAKASEC, had these students admitted without an appeals process. If you are facing a similar issue, please contact Yongho Kim at yk@krcla.org or 323-937-3718.

Below are emails that students have received from UCSD:

[edit] SLR Additional Information Request Letter

Dear Student,

Thank you for submitting your Statement of Legal Residence information to UCSD for FALL. 2007, however, the following information is needed to determine your residence classification for tuition purposes.

Failure to submit all requested information by the deadline will generate nonresident registration fees and you will not have the opportunity to appeal after the final deadline of MAY 31, 2007

All relevant information, requested documentation, written explanations, and clarifications that are not made available to the residence deputy by the student prior to deadline will not be considered or reviewed by the legal analysts if you chose to appeal the final determination, .

PLEASE SUBMIT COPIES OF ALL THE FOLLOWING ITEMS FOR YOU AND YOUR CA RESIDENT PARENT:

Explain in writing circumstances of missing documents & other details that contribute to your California ties and/or reasons for any absences from CA in the past year.

  • California Driver's license or California 10 card &
  • Lease/mortgage/rental agreement for the Past twelve months &
  • Federal and state income tax return for the 2006 tax year or just W2s If no tax forms were filed &
  • Summer physical presence in CA for the immediately preceding July, and August 2006 using summer pay stubs for parents or other documents 8
  • Proof of ALL memberships, phone, cable, gas, electric, water, gym, clubs, church, & other CA affiliations with CA addresses start dates.
  • I-94 Arrival/Departure Record from the USCIS immigration service from Sept 2006 to present.

MAIL TO:

Donna DeAngelis-Blaine, Residence Deputy
UCSD Student Services Center Registar's Office
9500 Gilman Drive, 2nd floor, MC # 0022
La Jolla, CA 92093-0022

[edit] SLR Follow-Up Letter

Dear Student;

Thank you for submitting your Statement of Legal Residence information to UCSD for FALL 2007.

Although you claimed to be a nonresident you have also stated your status in the U.S. is NONE currently and that you wish to take advantage of the AB540 waiver of nonresident fees. You need to submit the following information before the AB540 waiver request. Failure to submit all requested information by the deadline will generate nonresident registration fees and you will not have the opportunity to appeal after the final deadline of MAY 31, 2007.

All relevant information, requested documentation, written explanations, and clarifications that are not made available to the residence deputy by the student prior to deadline will not be considered or reviewed by the legal analysts if you chose to appeal the final determination.

PLEASE SUBMIT COPIES OF ALL THE FOLLOWING ITEMS FOR YOU AND YOUR CA RESIDENT PARENT:

Explain in writing circumstances of missing documents & other details that contribute to your California ties and/or reasons for any absences from CA in the past year.

  • I-485 petition application pending document from the immigration service stating your application has been received by USCIS or
  • I-94 Arrival/Departure Record from the USCIS immigration service from Sept. 2006 to present or
  • Explain the date and on what status you entered the U.S. and if it has expired, lapsed or in the process of an extension with USCIS paperwork included.

MAIL TO:

Donna DeAngelis-Blaine, Residence Deputy
UCSD Student Services Center Registar's Office
9500 Gilman Drive, 2nd floor, MC # 0022
La Jolla, CA 92093-0022

[edit] Nonresident Determination Email

From: Residence Deputy
To: Applicant
Sent: Monday, May 21, 2007 7:55 AM
Subject: UCSD NONRESIDENT Determination

Dear Applicant;

You have been classified as an International Nonresident of California for tuition purposes for the Fall 2007 Quarter.

The decision is based, in part, because you have stated your current status is a lapsed B2 and and your parents’ immigration status is a I-140 pending which means you are precluded from being considered a resident for tuition purposes.

You are also not eligible for the AB540 waiver due to your current non-immigration status. The AB540 waiver requires you to sign an affidavit stating that if you are a non-citizen without lawful immigration status, you have filed an application to legalize your immigration status or will file an application as soon as you are eligible to do so and you typically would not be eligible to file an application to legalize your status if you have allowed your previous USCIS status to expire.

If you wish to appeal please follow the instructions below.

APPEAL INSTRUCTIONS

All appeal letters must be initiated by you within 30 days of the date you were given notification of the San Diego campus decision. After 30 calendar days, you forfeit the right of appeal. Write a letter of appeal to:

LEGAL ANALYST - RESIDENCE MATTERS
UC-OFFICE OF THE GENERAL COUNSEL
1111 FRANKLIN STREET, 8TH FLOOR
OAKLAND, CA 94607-5200

Include in the letter of appeal, your name, student ID#, quarter and campus you were accepted, current address, and why you feel you are eligible for the benefit as a resident for tuition purposes and/or that you wish to be approved for the AB540 waiver. Please notify the residence deputy that you wish to appeal so your file can be sent.

The appeal process may take anywhere from two weeks to two months depending on workload and the specifics of your case. Because of this, it is important to initiate the appeal promptly and provide any and all documentation which supports your contention of residency. If your appeal is approved, the Residence Deputy will correct the fees to reflect resident registration fees.

Donna DeAngelis-Blaine, Residence Deputy
UCSD Student Services Center Registar's Office
9500 Gilman Drive, 2nd floor, mail code # 0022
La Jolla, CA 92093-0022
Fax (858) 534-5723

[edit] Offensive Email

I suggested an AB540 applicant to ask if it is necessary to submit the appeal letter, and why did the applicant need to be file an appeal in the first place. In a response email, the Residence Deputy wrote rudely, writing in big and bold fonts, which in speech is equivalent to shouting at the reader.

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[edit] Sample Appeals Letter

June 5, 2007

(Your Address)
Los Angeles, CA 90006

Legal Analyst - Residence Matters
UC-Office of the General Counsel
1111 Franklin Street, 8th Floor
Oakland, CA 94607-5200

RE: Nonresident Determination Decision

To Whom It May Concern:

my name is Hong Kildong and I am the parent of Hong Chulsoo (Student ID# 1234567), who was accepted to the University of California San Diego for the Fall of 2007. I believe that my child is entitled to an exemption to nonresident tuition according to the California Education Code § 68130.5. (commonly called A.B. 540).

The Education Code states:

    Notwithstanding any other provision of law:
       (a) A student, other than a nonimmigrant alien within the meaning of paragraph (15) of subsection (a) of Section 1101 of Title 8 of the United States Code, who meets all of the following requirements shall be exempt from paying nonresident tuition at the California State University and the California Community Colleges:
       (1) High school attendance in California for three or more years.
       (2) Graduation from a California high school or attainment of the equivalent thereof.
       (3) Registration as an entering student at, or current enrollment at an accredited institution of higher education in California not earlier than the fall semester or quarter of the 2001-02 academic year.
       (4) In the case of a person without lawful immigration status, the filing of an affidavit with the institution of higher education stating that the student has filed an application to legalize his or her immigration status, or will file an application as soon as he or she is eligible to do so.

Chulsoo meets all four requirements. She:

1) attended a California high school for more than three years and
2) will graduate in June of 2007 She will enroll to University of California San Diego
3) in the Fall of 2007, and
4) is ready to file the affidavit contained in the California Nonresident Tuition Exemption Request Form stating that she will file an application to legalize her immigration status as soon as she is eligible to do so.

However, I was e-mailed by UCSD's Residence Deputy, Miss Donna DeAngelis-Blaine, that Chulsoo is not eligible for the AB540 waiver because "you typically would not be eligible to file an application to legalize your status if you have allowed your previous USCIS status to expire". It seems that UCSD is saying that my child does not qualify for the fourth requirement, that of signing the affidavit.

UCSD seems to assume that

1) it is required to show proof of ability to legalize in order to qualify for AB540;
2) undocumented students cannot legalize their immigration status; and
3) students who allowed their previous USCIS status to expire, as opposed to students who crossed the border without authorization, cannot legalize their immigration status;

UCSD's decision seems mistaken at two levels.

First, the fourth requirement does not specify that the student should have the ability to legalize, but simply promise that he will file an application as soon as he is eligible to do so. So I don't see in what aspect UCSD thinks that my child is ineligible for the AB540 waiver. This should be enough to prove my point.

Second, even if the reason UCSD stated were to be necessary to qualify for the AB540 waiver, it is not true that my son is not eligible to apply for legalization. While I am not an attorney myself, I can think of two easy circumstances under which Chulsoo would be eligible to legalize his status. One is marriage with a U.S. Citizen, and the other is the eventual passage of the DREAM Act. (Currently S. 774 and H.R. 1275) Most AB540 students, regardless of whether they have allowed their previous USCIS status to expire or whether they have crossed the border without authorization, are able to legalize their status through one of these two ways.

The DREAM Act is slightly different in its House and Senate versions, but the basic requirements are similar:

1) proof of having arrived in the United States before reaching 16 years of age;
2) proof of residence in the United States for a least five (5) consecutive years since their date of arrival;
3) having graduated from an American High School, or obtained a GED;
4) "good moral character," essentially defined as the absence of a significant criminal record;

A student who meets these requirements would be eligible to apply for a temporary six year conditional residency permit, which would allow them to live, study and work in the United States. My child meets all four requirements, and therefore would be able to obtain a temporary status upon the enactment of the DREAM Act.

I therefore question & appeal to UCSD's decision to deny the AB540 waiver to Saem Choi, given the above explanation. I also ask that UCSD stops making AB540 students go through this troublesome appeals process for frivolous reasons such as the one cited above.

I can be reached at (123) 456-7890 or email@domain.com for any questions.

Sincerely yours,


(Your Signature)
(Your Name)

[edit] Resolution

Attorney Fred Takemiya of the University of California General Counsel stated the following on July 27th of 2007:

Regarding the AB 540 Application and Affidavit, it is now official that UC will accept at face value the statement that students intend to legalize their immigration status. Responses to all pending AB 540 appeals will be issued this week, and we think the students will be satisfied with the results.

With this, all 300 students were admitted again.


[edit] UCI SLR Incomplete

UCI may send a letter requesting further information from the student upon completing the SLR. It suffices to send back an AB540 form. Then UCI will notify the student s/he is not a resident, but qualifies for the AB540 exemption.

[edit] Further Information Request

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, IRVINE

5/16/2007

DEADLINE TO RESPOND: June 15, 2007 Effective Term: Fall 2007 SID#: 1234567890

RE: RESIDENCE CLASSIFICATION FOR TUITION FEE PURPOSES AT UC IRVINE

Your Statement of Legal Residence is either incomplete or more information is required before a residence determination can be made. All new and returning students (those absent for three or more consecutive terms) arc classified as nonresident until a completed Statement of Legal Residence and any additional requested information or documentation is received and eligibility is established.

If you believe you should be classified as a resident, please return a copy of this letter, the following page and any additional information or documents" requested. You should print your name and student ID# on ALL of your documents and send them to:

Office of the Registrar / SAIS
Attention: Residence Classification
University of California, Irvine
215 Administration Building
Irvine, CA 92697-4975

If a written reply and the requested information/documentation (or an explanation of why you were not able to provide it) are not received by the above posted deadline, I will assume that you have no additional information 10 provide with regard to your residence Classification, and your status will remain nonresident.

Sincerely,

Matthew Vierra Residence Deputy

  • Please provide photocopies not original documents.

You have indicated that you and your mother are not U.S. citizens and have no current legal U.S. visa or immigration status to report. If this Is Indeed correct, please provide a written statement below: If you and your mother possess a valid U.S. visa or Immigration status covering the period from September 26, 2006 to September 27, 2007, please provide photocopies of:

  • Your passport picture pages and pages bearing an entry and exit stamp
  • Your Permanent Resident Alien Cards
  • Your valid 1-94 cards
  • Any other applicable documents pertaining to your particular status

Office of the Registrar and Student Academic Information Systems
University of California, Irvine
 Irvine, California 92697-4975
(949) 824-6129
FAX (949) 824-7896
www.reg.uci.edu

[edit] Nonresident Classification and AB540 Exemption Notice

June 14, 2007
STUDENT NAME
ADDRESS
Effective Term: fall 2007
SID#: 123456

RE: RESIDENCE CLASSIFICATION FOR TUITION PURPOSES AT UC IRVINE.

After reviewing your Statement of Legal Residence and all documents filed in conjunction with it for the quarter, I am sorry to inform you that you have been determined to be a NONRESIDENT for tuition purposes.

University residence regulations require that a student be a bona fide resident of California for more than one year- immediately preceding the residence determination date of the term residence classification is requested, Residence can be established or changed only by the union of act and intent. The act alone is insufficient; the intent alone is insufficient. The act necessary to establish residence is physical presence in California. The intent to make California the permanent home is a subjective clement, which is objectively manifested through legal tics established with the state of California.

University residence regulations require that a student who will not reach the age of 24 by December 31st of the calendar year of the term for which classification as a resident is requested, and who is not dependent upon a California resident parent, demonstrate financial independence in addition to meeting the 366 day physical presence and intent requirements when seeking classification as a resident for tuition purposes. Students under age 24 must demonstrate either that their parents arc residents of California or that they have been self-sufficient for a period of two calendar years prior to the term residence classification is requested.

A resident is defined as a financially independent adult U.S. citizen or eligible alien who is present in California with the intent to make California the permanent residence and who has manifested that intent by abandoning all residential ties with the former state of residence, establishing those ties with California and thereafter residing in California for a duration of more than one year immediately preceding the residence determination date for the applicable term. Parents qualify as residents through the same combination of physical presence, intent and duration as described above.

An adult alien may establish a residence in California for tuition purposes if s/he is legally present in California in a status that allows her/him to he domiciled in the IJ.S. for more than one year immediately preceding the residence determination date of the term residence classification is requested, The residence determination date for fall 2007 is September 27,2007. You have not documented that you have been present in California in a legal status allowing you to be domiciled in the U.S. for more than One year immediately preceding the residence determination date.

I f you wish to appeal your nonresident classification, please send a letter of appeal within 30 days of the date of this letter to:

Legal Analyst-Residence Matters
 Office of the General Counsel
University of California
1111 Franklin Street, 8th floor
Oakland, CA 94607-5200

In your letter, include your student ID# and indicate the campus and term for which you were denied. You should also outline the basis of your appeal in your letter and include any additional information Or documentation that supports your case. The Office of the General Counsel will then review a copy of your file', and make a final determination regarding your residence status. If you have questions regarding the appeal process, please call (949) 824-6129.

Although you have been classified as a nonresident, you have been determined to be eligible for exemption from the nonresident tuition as an eligible California high school graduate. You will remain classified as a nonresident; however, the nonresident tuition and fee will be waived for each term of your attendance. Sincerely,

Matthew Vierra Residence Deputy

1 Statement of Legal Residence and all other documents filed for the purposes of residence classification.

Offlce of the Registrar and Student Academic Information Systems
University of California, Irvine.
Irvine, CA 92697-4975
(949) 824-6129 • FAX (949) 824-7896
www.reg.uci.edu

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