DuPage County Student Immigration Lawyers
Skilled Guidance for Students Who Qualify for the Illinois DREAM Act
In August 2011, Illinois became the first state in the country to set up a privately-financed scholarship fund for undocumented students. The legislation, known as the Illinois DREAM Act, gives undocumented youth, many of whom are from households below the poverty line, the opportunity to finance a college education. This Act is not to be confused with proposed federal legislation (bearing the same name) that would provide a path to legalization for undocumented youth; it is specifically for Illinois students who meet certain requirements.
Who Qualifies for the Illinois DREAM Act?
The IL DREAM Act establishes a DREAM Fund that offers scholarships to students who:
- Have at least one parent who immigrated to the U.S.;
- Have resided with their parent(s) or guardian(s) while they attended high school in Illinois;
- Have graduated from a public or private high school in Illinois or received a GED or equivalent; and
- As of the date they received their diploma or GED, have attended high school in Illinois for at least three years.
The Illinois DREAM Commission (a 9 member commission appointed by the governor) is responsible for raising money for the DREAM Fund, publicizing the availability of scholarships, selecting scholarship recipients, establishing and administering training programs for education counselors and financial aid and admissions officers, and otherwise ensuring full implementation of the law.
Other Provisions of the DREAM Act
In addition to the creation of the DREAM Fund, the Illinois DREAM Act also includes two other important provisions. Undocumented youth are now allowed to obtain an Illinois driver’s certificate; this certificate is similar to a driver’s license and gives driving privileges to immigrants without documentation. The main difference is a driver’s certificate cannot be used for federal identification purposes. Undocumented youth are now also able to participate in the Illinois Prepaid Tuition Plan and the State Treasurer’s College Saving Pool. To participate in these programs, students must have a Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Undocumented students who want to participate must obtain an ITIN from the IRS. Please note: the IRS is not allowed to share this information with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).The Illinois DREAM Act is an important step to allow undocumented youth the opportunity to obtain a quality education and the ability to drive legally in Illinois. It is important to understand, however, that this Act does not provide a path to legal status or citizenship, nor does it provide automatic protection from deportation/removal. If you are concerned about how taking advantage of the programs available may impact your status in the U.S., it is best to speak with a skilled immigration attorney. At Mevorah & Giglio Law Offices, we have extensive experience with all matters related to immigration law. Our award-winning lawyers frequently help clients for even the most complex immigration cases. We put our in-depth experience to work to examine your circumstances thoroughly and determine the best course of action to take advantage of the benefits available to you while preserving your status. Contact our office today at 630-932-9100630-932-9100 for a free consultation.