Terms, Definitions and Legislation

Terms and Definitions

The following definitions and terminology have been adapted from National Immigration Law Center, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Migration Policy Institute, and The Urban Institute:

Undocumented: a foreign national who: 1) entered the United States without inspection or with fraudulent documentation; or 2) entered as a nonimmigrant with proper documentation but then overstated the terms of his or her status and remained in the United States without authorization, as defined by the National Immigration Law Center. Other terms commonly used in reference to undocumented students include unauthorized, undocumented American, DREAMers, generation 1.5, and aspiring citizens.  Note: the “i” word should be avoided because no human being is “illegal," a term that is dehumanizing and hurtful.

Undocuqueer: refers to the intersection of the Undocumented and LGBTQ struggles to give voice to those living in both worlds and embracing both identities. For more information, please visit the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project (QUIP).

UndocuAsian: refers to the growing number of undocumented Asian youth who are coming out of the shadows. For more information visit Asian American Justice Center.

DACAmented:refers to youth who are eligible and have applied and received the documentation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Please visit the National UnDACAmented Research Project for more information.

Legal U.S. Citizenship: obtained by individuals who were born in the United States; or by individuals who followed the U.S. citizenship naturalization process as stated by the U.S Immigration Office

Non-Citizen: a person who is not a U.S citizen or Permanent Legal Resident of the United States and does not hold a valid visa to be authorized to be in the United States.

Overstayed Visa: refers to an individual who entered the United States with proper documentation but stayed in the United States after their tourist, visitor, or student visa expired; thus his/her status is now "undocumented"

International Student: a student from a foreign country who holds a student visa for the purposes of pursuing a college education or advance degree in the United States. Undocumented students are not considered international students and do not have to meet international student admission criteria.

Residency Status: refers to in-state or out-of-state residency for tuition purposes. Residents of the state of Illinois receive in-state tuition at all state universities. 
Note: Community Colleges utilize the term in-district or out-of-district and it refers to the district the community college serves in a specific area; students simply needs to proof they live in the “school” district the community college serves.

Confidentiality, Privacy, and Rights: The Federal Education Right to Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the privacy of students’ educational records regardless of immigration status. For more information about FERPA and student records confidentiality, and directory information access, please visit NIU’s Registration and Records website for information about your rights while attending Northern Illinois University.

DREAM Action NIU: a student-led organization working in collaboration with the Latino Resource Center which aims to increase awareness about the situations undocumented students face in the U.S. and particularly on our campus. Our members share the belief that higher education is a fundamental human right for all, regardless of citizenship status. For more information, please visit DREAM Action NIU.

Legislation and Immigration

The Illinois General Assembly Public Act 093-07 (HB60): This legislation passed in 2003 and it allows undocumented youth to pay in-state tuition at public universities in Illinois if they meet the following requirements:

  1. The individual had to have resided with his or her parents or guardian while attending a public or private high school in Illinois
  2. The individual had to have graduated from a public or private high school OR received the equivalent of a high school diploma (GED) in Illinois.
  3. The individual had to have attended school in Illinois for at least 3 years as of the date the individual graduated from high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma.
  4. In case the individual is not a citizen or a permanent resident of the United States, the individual has to provide the university with an affidavit stating that the individual will file an application to become a permanent resident or the United States at the earliest opportunity the individual is eligible to do so.

DREAM Act: The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act is a legislative proposal that provides a path towards permanent legal residency and U.S. citizenship to eligible youth. It was first introduce in the Senate on August 2001 by Dick Durbin and Orrin Hatch. Since it has gone through several revisions and amendments but it has NOT been approved in Congress. For more information, visit the DREAM Act Portal.

IL DREAM Act: This legislation passed in August 2011 and it makes Illinois the first state in the country to create a private scholarship fund for undocumented youth. It sets three milestones: 1) allows parents of undocumented students to participate in the Illinois College Savings Pool and the Illinois Prepaid Tuition plan; 2) requires high school college counselors to be better trained and prepared to know what college options are available for undocumented students and children of immigrants; (3) establishes an Illinois DREAM Fund Commission to generate scholarships for qualified undocumented students. For more information, please visit Illinois DREAM Act and the Illinois DREAM Fund Commission.

DACA: On June 15, 2012, the Obama Administration announced that it would offer many DREAM Act-eligible youths protection from deportation through “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA). It temporarily shields individuals from deportation and enables them to live and work legally in the U.S. and it is valid for two years. But can be renewed. Eligible youths are able to get a valid SSN, work permit, and driver’s license. DACA does NOT put someone on track towards a green card or U.S. citizenship. Not everyone qualifies for DACA. For information on DACA eligibility please visit Educators For Fair Consideration (E4FC). To learn about what to do after you receive DACA please visit Got DACA, NOW WHAT?

Senate Immigration Bill (S. 744): On April 18, 2013, a group of eight U.S. Senators including Illinois Senator Richard Durbin introduced the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.” This 844-page bill includes a path to citizenship for many undocumented immigrants as well as several other major changes to our immigration system. Please visit the Immigration Policy Center for a Guide to S.744.

Contact Us

Sandy López
Coordinator for Undocumented Student Support
Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Campus Life Building 230

Virtual Hours

Monday-Friday: 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. by appointment only slopez1@niu.edu

View graduate assistant office hours.