Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Undocumented Student Support

Anticipated Supreme Court Decision on DACA

When should DACA recipients renew their DACA in light of a potential negative decision by the Supreme Court?
  • DACA recipients should seek qualified legal counsel to receive individualized legal advice about their case, including whether they should renew their DACA and whether they are eligible for a more permanent form of relief. For more help contact Sandy López at
  • While USCIS recommends that DACA recipients submit their renewal requests 120 to 150 days before expiration, USCIS is accepting and eventually adjudicating renewals submitted within 365 days before expiration.
  • Generally, DACA recipients whose DACA expires within 365 days or less should submit their renewal request as soon as possible to obtain an additional two-year grant or at least be grandfathered in (see below) in light of a negative decision.
What will happen to pending applications if the Supreme Court issues a negative decision?

Sometime between April and June of 2020, the Supreme Court will issue a decision on whether the administration can legally end DACA. If the Supreme Court allows the administration to end DACA, it is unknown how that rescission will take place.

  • The worst potential outcome is that the administration will deny all pending applications and retract all existing grants of DACA.
  • Another scenario is that the administration will deny all pending applications but allow existing grants of DACA to gradually expire.
  • The best scenario is that the administration will process all DACA renewal requests pending on the date of the decision and allow existing grants to gradually expire. Thus, in certain cases it may be beneficial for DACA recipients to submit their renewal application in case the administration adjudicates all pending applications.
What other employment options will DACA recipients have if their DACA expires or is terminated?

DACA recipients should educate themselves and explore alternatives to employment in the case DACA expires. These options include:

  • Exploring the feasibility of transitioning their current position to an independent contractor position
  • Starting a small business, and/or operating as independent contractor generally.

These options do not require an employment authorization document. For more information on these options, check out Immigrants Rising resources on Working for Yourself and 5 Tips to Get Started as an Independent Contractor.

What does the forthcoming nationwide implementation of REAL ID mean for a DACA recipient’s ability to obtain identification and driver’s licenses?
  • REAL ID is a federal law that requires states to verify the citizenship or immigration status of their residents before issuing driver’s license or identification for certain federal purposes.
  • On October 1, 2021, non-REAL ID forms of identification will no longer be accepted at federal buildings or for domestic flights.
  • As always, documents issued by foreign governments, such as passports and the Mexican Matricula, are acceptable forms of identification to fly on domestic flights and will remain so.
  • REAL ID-compliant identification cannot be issued to undocumented immigrants but can be issued to DACA recipients. These REAL ID identification cards expire at the same time a DACA recipient’s deferred action expires and must be renewed once an individual successfully obtains their DACA renewal. For more information regarding REAL ID, please see National Immigration Law Center resources, The REAL ID Act: Questions and Answers and Basic Facts About REAL ID.
  • Illinois issues temporary visitor’s driver’s license (TVDL) for undocumented immigrants. Temporary visitor’s licenses are for driver’s ineligible for Social Security number who do not have proof of authorized presence. Applicants must present an unexpired passport or consular ID. This license may not be used for identification and must contain a notice on its face stating this in capital letters. (Public Act 097-1157) Please note - TVDLs are not REAL ID complaint.

General Questions

Do I have to be a citizen to be admitted to NIU?

Leave the paper application blank and proceed as directed.

On the online application complete the citizenship portion as it best describes your current immigration status. Then proceed to answer the Non-citizen Status prompts.

Be advised that you will need to meet the criteria under HB 60 for in state tuition for undocumented students.

What is an ITIN?
The ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) is a tax processing number, issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), for certain resident and non-resident aliens, their spouses, and their dependents. It's a nine-digit number beginning with the number "9" and is formatted like a SSN (example: 9XX-7X-XXXX). For more information visit the IRS website.
Can I apply for financial aid?
Undocumented students are not eligible for State or Federal Financial Aid (FAFSA). However, students that are U.S. citizens whose parents are undocumented are eligible to complete the FAFSA as long as parents file income taxes with an ITIN. For additional information contact the financial aid office and request staff with expertise in working with undocumented students.
Am I eligible for scholarships?

Undocumented students are eligible for scholarships as long as they meet the scholarship criteria.  Many NIU scholarships are awarded based only on academic merit or talent. NIU scholarships can be identified by utilizing the MyScholarships tool.

In addition, there are many private organizations that award scholarships based upon a variety of criteria. Refer to this list of undocumented-friendly resources.

Am I required to register for a set number of classes?
No, students are not required to register for a specific amount of classes. However, students will need to understand that it may take a little longer to complete a degree if they take less than 12 credits a semester. In addition, some scholarships may have a requirement of being a full-time student. *A full time student must be enrolled for 12 credits.
Does my current immigration status limit my choice of majors at NIU?
There may be some majors that will require additional licensure and certification requirements. It is important for students to be aware of such requirements prior to declaring a major. Students should consult with the Major Program Advisor for requirements. Currently in the state of Illinois undocumented students are able to take the teacher licensure exams, background checks, and board exams for nursing. Students should consult with the major program advisor.

Contact Us

Undocumented Student Resource Center
Northern Illinois University
Campus Life Building 230
545 Lucinda Avenue
DeKalb, IL 60115

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