Advocacy Resources for College & University Students

The circumstances for undocumented students in higher education have drastically improved over the past decade, but there is still work to do. In particular, so much of the support available to undocumented students relies on students having to possess DACA status as a qualifying factor for accessibility, leaving out other undocumented youth. This must change. 

We believe that all undocumented students deserve to feel safe on campus, be food and lodging secure, and have support in their academic endeavors. We believe that access to higher education should be equitable regardless of citizenship status or economic background.

Many of these proposed policies and programs in the resources below echo the demands of the “sanctuary campus movement.” The intent of the sanctuary campus movement is for colleges and universities to adopt policies specifically to protect undocumented people on campus. This movement gained momentum in November 2016 after Trump was elected as president of the United States in response to his promises to end DACA and increase immigration enforcement. While pushing for colleges and universities to become sanctuary campuses is a compelling demand, it’s important to remember that “sanctuary campus” is not a concept that can be legally defined or upheld. This is why we believe it’s essential to advocate for specific policies that can be implemented and enforced on college and university campuses. 



Campus Safety for College & University Students

When we consider safety for undocumented students on college and university campuses, we are not only thinking about the dangers that law enforcement and immigration enforcement present, but also the importance of cultivating an environment in which undocumented students feel supported and have allies.

When it does come to interactions with immigration and law enforcement, it’s important that undocumented students are aware that Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) often visit campuses to check up on international (F-1 and J-1) students. These visits are commonplace, and colleges and universities are generally well-prepared to handle them. That said, there are guidelines and legal restrictions for ICE visits to campus, even legal ones, and it’s critically important that all university faculty and staff, as well as undocumented students, are aware of their rights when interacting with law enforcement.  

Colleges and universities should be prepared for all interactions with immigration and law enforcement officers and have processes in place that keep undocumented community members safe. Faculty and staff should be informed of this protocol and trained to understand the realities that undocumented individuals face through “UndocuAlly” trainings.  

One way undocumented students and allies have mobilized around campus safety is by advocating for what is called a “sanctuary campus.” While the intent of the sanctuary campus movement is for colleges and universities to adopt policies specifically to protect undocumented people on campus, it’s important to remember that “sanctuary campus” is not a legally enforceable term. As a result, it’s critical to push for specific policies on campus that will help to keep undocumented students and community members safe. You can read more about the sanctuary campus concept in the section, Advocacy Resources for College & University Students.



Know Your Rights

Community and Ally Support

Interacting with Law and Immigration Enforcement

Organizing and Protesting

Support for Online Learning and Getting Your Education During COVID-19

The realities of the COVID-19 pandemic have changed the landscape of education, at least temporarily. While some students are still attending school in person or living on campus, a huge percentage are learning from home. We know that many students may not have the ideal study atmosphere at home or are wrestling with other responsibilities including working or taking care of family. 



Online Learning

Applying to College During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Mental Health: Dealing with Stress and Other Mental Health Challenges as a Student

As an undocumented person, it can be challenging to find mental health resources and professionals that can relate to you and your experience. If the mental health provider(s) at your high school, college, or university are not knowledgeable about the unique circumstances and challenges that undocumented students face, Informed Immigrant has created a guide–written by current and formerly undocumented mental health professionals–that you, a friend, or a trusted adult could share with to help educate them. Access it here



Working and Earning an Income While Undocumented

Whether or not you are undocumented, there are ways for you to make a living and earn an income including becoming an entrepreneur or setting up an LLC and working as a consultant. Regardless of your reason for working–to support your family, to put yourself through college, or to take the first steps towards your career after graduating– we collected resources to help students and graduates set themselves up for success.

NOTE: If you are not eligible for a social security number (i.e., you are undocumented), you will need an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) to pay federally required taxes on your earned income. In some circumstances, ITINs can also be used for things like opening bank accounts or taking out loans


  • Immigrants Rising’s Spark – Learn how to leverage your skills, knowledge, and experience to make money through freelancing or starting your own business.*

    *We strongly advise anyone considering an LLC to seek guidance from an attorney regarding any potential immigration consequences

Income Generation Beyond DACA

Our friends at Immigrants Rising have been working on a learning hub for alternative income-generating pathways, regardless of your immigration status. The Spark learning hub will help you explore different opportunities such as becoming an independent contractor or starting your own business.




Taxes and Your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

Entrepreneurship, Independent Contracting, and Freelancing

Worker Cooperatives

Credit, Financial Capital, and Banking

Non-Employment Based Student Funding and Fellowships

Resources for Applying to College as an Undocumented Student

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