UC Nonresident Exemption Process Becomes Tougher, Undocumented Students Face Difficulties

UC Tuition Benefit Audit Becomes Tougher, Undocumented Students Face Difficulties
(translation of Korean article)

Korea Daily 7-25-07 A1
Reporter Nicole Chang

AB540 is a California state law that allows undocumented students who had attended high school for 3 years or more to allow them to pay tuition for California residents when they enroll in a public university. The application of this law has become much tougher.

In particular, UC universities are strengthening the qualification examinations and undocumented students are failing in a row from qualifying for in-state.

Some high school staff supported this observation, and said "universities are making the document review process for the tuition exemption much more upstuck and we have started to see undocumented who have not received the tuition rates"

In fact, many Korean American students who qualified to UCSD ended up not being able to receive the tuition exemption. UCSD had also denied resident tuition exemptions to 20 Korean American students, arguing that AB540 did not apply to them.

KRC said "these students are undocumented, whose visas expired. We cannot disclose further information because parents and the school are negotiating to solve this problem."

According to other high school staff of Los Angeles, "this year, there are more Korean american students who were accepted in UCs but have not been able to receive California resident tuition benefits because they have a history of having a nonimmigrant visa" and added "parents are meeting to solve the situation, but since they are undocumented, there hasn't been progress."

Some students are enrolling in community colleges, and some are even giving up on college altogether.

Mr. Kim (18, Los Angeles), who had been accepted to UCLA last April, had been notified that he did not qualify for the tuition benefit that applies to California residents. The reason was that Mr Kim, who had come with family members to the U.S. on a tourist visa, and had become undocumented after his visa expired, had no record of having filed a permanent residency petition to the USCIS.

Mr Kim said "I didn't know the school would go as far as checking with USCIS" and added "in the decision letter, it says that I can appeal, but since I'm undocumented I'm afraid of posing questions; I'll just go to a 2-year college."

Alvaro Huerta, spokesperson of CHIRLA, said "it's true that there are stricter checks on documents now" and advised "when you file the AB540, you need to sign a proof document that you will be applying soon for permanent residency, so there is some degree of risk on the legal side".

Huerta added "in particular, undocumented who entered the country on a student visa are on a federal database, and may be target of raids" and added "if you are [had a visa in the past] it's best that you consult with an attorney first"

UCs charge $7,143.23 to residents, and $23,5827.23 to non-residents as tuition fees.

This law, which was sponsored by Assemblymember Marco Antonio Firebaugh in 2001, allows students to pay tuition for California residents in public universities even if they are undocumented as long as they attend a California high school for three years, but contain a clause requiring students to apply for permanent residency in a short period of time.