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at Advocates for Children

151 West 30th Street
5th Floor
New York, NY 10001

TEL 800.388.2014
FAX 212.807.6872

FAQs: Immigrant Students

Are immigrant students experiencing homelessness eligible for McKinney-Vento Act protections?

Yes. Immigrant students experiencing homelessness are protected under the McKinney-Vento Act, and are entitled to full access to school regardless of their immigration status. Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982).

Are undocumented immigrant students entitled to enroll in the school district where they are residing?

Under Federal law, school districts are required to provide all children with equal access to public education at the elementary and secondary level. As the 1982 Supreme Court case, Plyler v. Doe, made clear, the documentation status of a student (or his or her parent or guardian) is irrelevant to that student's right to a public education. Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982).

Are unaccompanied immigrant children and youth who have been released to a sponsor in the U.S. eligible for McKinney-Vento protections?

Often, the answer is yes. Students residing with a sponsor may be eligible for McKinney-Vento protections, on a case-by-case basis. The definition of "homelessness" under McKinney-Vento includes situations where students are sharing the housing of other people due to loss of housing, economic hardship or a similar reason (also known as "doubled up"). This may describe many unaccompanied immigrant children and youth who reside in sponsor households after fleeing their home countries. McKinney-Vento eligibility determinations must take into account the unique circumstances of each child. School districts are required to immediately enroll such children while McKinney-Vento eligibility determinations are being made in accordance with the McKinney-Vento Act.

Can a school request a visa, permanent resident ID (green card), U.S. passport or other immigration related documentation when enrolling an immigrant student?

No. School districts cannot request any documentation or information at the time of enrollment, or as a condition of enrollment, if that documentation would tend to reveal the immigration status of the child, or of the child's parent(s) or the person(s) in parental relation. This means that districts should not ask for copies of visas or other documentation indicating immigration status, such a a social security card or number. 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 100.2(y)(3)(i)(a).

Are NYS school districts educating children and youth who were last permanently housed outside the United State eligible for tuition reimbursement?

Students who were permanently housed outside of the country are treated equally to other students who were last permanently housed outside of New York State. If a student in temporary housing was most recently permanently housed outside of New York State or outside the United States, the new district of current location will complete a STAC 202 form for record-keeping purposes only. The district of current location will not be eligible for tuition reimbursement through the STAC process. N.Y. Education Law § 3209(3)(a). In such cases, the STAC form should not be mailed to NYSED.

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Training and Workshop Materials