On April 29, 2014 Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced that students who have approved Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) are eligible for in-state tuition at Virginia public universities and colleges.

The difference between in-state tuition and out-of state tuition is significant. For example, in-state tuition for a Bachelor’s degree at George Mason University for the 2013-2014 school year was $9,908/year while out-of-state tuition was a whopping $28,592/year, almost 3 times more expensive!

The Attorney General explained that DACA students are eligible for in-state tuition because they are able to form subjective domiciliary intent unlike foreign students in other temporary visa categories such as F-1. This is because students who have DACA have lawful status that can be renewed indefinitely, and as such, they can form the intent to remain in Virginia indefinitely. (See his letter to Presidents of Virginia Public Colleges and Universities here: http://www.ag.virginia.gov/Media%20and%20News%20Releases/News_Releases/Herring/DACA_AG_Advice_Letter.pdf

Each Virginia public university or college has its own application for in-state tuition. However, the requirements for proving eligibility are the same. They are as follows:

  1. Proof that you have had DACA for one full year prior to the start of the semester
  2. Proof of Virginia Domicile since the day your DACA was approved (this includes but is not limited to the following):
    1. Virginia high school transcript
    2. Virginia driver’s license
    3. Virginia car registration
    4. Virginia tax returns
    5. Copies of lease, utility bills, cell phone bills, bank account statements, car insurance, etc. (anything with your name on it showing you were residing in Virginia)
    6. Virginia marriage certificate (if you are married)

If you do not renew your DACA after the two year expiration date, you will no longer be eligible for in-state tuition; therefore it is extremely important to pay attention to that expiration date. As discussed in our previous post, DACA applicants can submit their DACA renewal application up to 5 months prior to the expiration of their card, but should wait no more than 4 months prior to expiration to submit their application in order to avoid being out of status.

Here is a link to some helpful FAQs regarding in-state tuition for DACA students: http://vacolao.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/DACA-and-In-State-Tuition-in-Virginia.-Frequently-Asked-Questions.-Legal-Aid-Justice-Center.pdf

Also, there will be an Information Session on In-state Tuition Requirements for Virginia DACA Holders hosted by the Legal Aid Justice Center on Monday May 19 from 6:30 to 8:30pm. Here is the link to RSVP to this event: http://action.justice4all.org/site/Calendar?id=100243&view=Detail

Nancy M. Vizer

Author Nancy M. Vizer

Ms. Vizer has experience in most aspects of immigration law and has participated on panels at several continuing legal education seminars concerning immigration topics. She has also made presentations to both faculty and human resources staff at a number of universities in connection with immigration employment issues.

More posts by Nancy M. Vizer

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