Teenagers

Immigrant Students

Immigrant students who experience homelessness are protected under the McKinney-Vento Act, regardless of their immigration status. Under Federal law, school districts are required to provide all children, regardless of immigration or housing status, with equal access to public education at the elementary and secondary level. As the 1982 Supreme Court case, Plyler v. Doe, made clear, even if a student is undocumented or a non-citizen, the student's status (and the status of his or her parent or guardian) is irrelevant to that student's right to a public education.

Topic Resources

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Guides & Fact Sheets

A Guide to Understanding the New Rules for School Registration

In July 2015, the Commissioner’s Regulations governing enrollment of students in public school were amended to ensure that all students, and in particular unaccompanied youth, have timely access to school. The Regulations require that school districts accept a broader range of documents to establish residency and establish timelines for making residency determinations. The New York State Education Department produced brochures in multiple languages that districts can provide to parents so that they better understand the enrollment process. The brochure is currently available in English, Spanish, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, French, Haitian-Creole, Karen, Nepali, Russian, and Urdu.

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CUNY Citizenship Now!

This project, based at the City University of New York (CUNY), provides free, high quality, and confidential citizenship and immigration law services to help individuals and families on their path to U.S. citizenship.

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Central American Refugee Center (CARACEN-NY)

This organization provides legal services, advocacy, and other support to immigrant communities in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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Laws & Guidance

Dear Colleague Letter on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Determinations

United States Department of Education

This July 29, 2015, Dear Colleague letter from the U.S. Department of Education provides guidance for financial aid administrators on the definition of homelessness, how to make determinations, and how to document students’ status. It revises the prior policy so that all applicants under age 24, including those who are 22 or 23 years old, are unaccompanied and experiencing homelessness, or are self-supporting and at risk of being homeless, qualify for a homeless youth determination and will be considered independent students.

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Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Undocumented students in temporary housing are protected by the McKinney-Vento Act. On June 15, 2012, the Obama Administration issued a memo announcing that the U.S. would not deport certain undocumented persons who entered the United States as children. This memo is known as “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).” Deferred action means that, even though the individual is undocumented and subject to deportation, the government agrees to not take actions to remove the person from the United States. It is important to note that a grant of deferred action does not grant that person citizenship, and it does not change an individual’s existing immigration status, nor provide a path to citizenship. For more information about DACA, including FAQs and guidelines, please visit the Immigrant Legal Resource Center’s website. Please note: as of June 16, 2017 the DACA program is still available and accepting applications.

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Laws & Guidance

Educational Services for Recently Arrived Evacuees, Refugees, Immigrants and/ or Unaccompanied Children

NYSED

This memo is to inform Local Education Agencies (LEAs) of the educational rights of students who are evacuees who may be living in temporary housing. With many Afghan evacuees being resettled in the United States in recent months, there may be some confusion about the services these students are eligible to receive under Title VI, subtitle B of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (McKinney-Vento Act).

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Laws & Guidance

Educational Services for Recently Arrived Unaccompanied Children

New York State Education Department

The New York State Education Department issued this September 10, 2014 letter to all school districts regarding educational services for recently arrived unaccompanied immigrant children, many of whom may be eligible for services under the McKinney-Vento Act.

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Guides & Fact Sheets

Fact Sheet: Educational Services for Immigrant Children and Those Recently Arrived to the United States

This fact sheet from the United States Department of Education provides information to help Local Educational Agencies (LEAs include school districts, BOCES, and charter schools) to understand their responsibilities, and it also includes resources available to educate all immigrant students.

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Laws & Guidance

Guidance Regarding Out-of-State/Country Children who become Homeless and Tuition Reimbursement

NYSED

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Laws & Guidance

Guidance Relating to the Right of Individuals Over Compulsory School Age to Attend High School

New York State Education Department

This May 2016 memo explains that all individuals, regardless of citizenship, who reside in New York State (NYS) and are between the ages of 5 and 21, have the right to a free public high school education in their school district of residence.

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Guides & Fact Sheets

Immigrant Services Directory: Public Resources for Intake Referrals

This guide from the American Civil Liberties Union outlines available resources, contact information, and referral processes for those seeking assistance for immigrant children and youth. The guide is organized state-by-state.

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Guides & Fact Sheets

Immigrant and Homeless: Information for Local Liaisons and Information for School District Title III Program and Community Agencies - FOR LIAISONS

This issue brief from the National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) explain the challenges many immigrant and refugee families encounter in adjusting to life in the United States, including integrating into the U.S. public school system. The memos describe methods for determining homelessness among immigrant and refugee families and strategies for supporting the integration of immigrant and refugee children into the U.S. schools are discussed.

About the Source

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) operates the Department’s technical assistance center for the federal Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) Program. In this role, NCHE works with schools, service providers, parents, and other interested stakeholders to ensure that children and youth experiencing homelessness can enroll and succeed in school.

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Guides & Fact Sheets

Immigrant and Homeless: Information for Local Liaisons and Information for School District Title III Program and Community Agencies - FOR DISTRICTS AND AGENCIES

This issue brief from the National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) explain the challenges many immigrant and refugee families encounter in adjusting to life in the United States, including integrating into the U.S. public school system. The memos describe methods for determining homelessness among immigrant and refugee families and strategies for supporting the integration of immigrant and refugee children into the U.S. schools are discussed.

About the Source

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) operates the Department’s technical assistance center for the federal Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) Program. In this role, NCHE works with schools, service providers, parents, and other interested stakeholders to ensure that children and youth experiencing homelessness can enroll and succeed in school.

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Immigrant and Refugee Children: A Guide for Educators and School Support Staff

This guide was created for educators, school support staff and service providers who teach, mentor and help open the doors of opportunity for undocumented youth and unaccompanied and refugee children currently living in the United States. Educators, school support staff and service providers are often the first people a student and/or family talk with about their status as undocumented, and the needs that they may have.

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Guides & Fact Sheets

Immigration and Schools: Supporting Success for Undocumented and Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

Attending school and gaining securing lawful status in the United States are two keys to safety and security for undocumented unaccompanied homeless youth. This brief co-authored by the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) and Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), is designed for young people, immigration attorneys and advocates, McKinney-Vento liaisons, and other educators. It provides information about federal laws that can help undocumented youth who are homeless to attend school and address their immigration status.

About the Source

The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) is a national membership association dedicated to ensuring educational equity and excellence for children and youth experiencing homelessness.

Kids In Need of Defense (KIND) protects unaccompanied children who enter the US immigration system alone to ensure that no child appears in court without an attorney.

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Guides & Fact Sheets

Legal Issues for School Districts Related to the Education of Undocumented Children

This document, issued jointly by the National School Board Association (NSBA) and the National Education Association (NEA), answers frequently asked questions from school administrators about the rights and responsibilities schools have with respect to undocumented students.

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Laws & Guidance

NYS Attorney General and State Education Commissioner Advise Schools On Protecting Immigrant Students

After federal immigration-related actions that have created fear and confusion in New York and across the country, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia reminded school districts of their duty to comply with existing state and federal laws that ensure the rights of immigrant children to attend New York’s public schools without fear of reprisal.

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Laws & Guidance

NYSED Memo: Provision of Educational Services for Recently Arrived Unaccompanied Children and Youth

NYSED Field Memo

This 2021 Memo from the New York State Education Department outlines important information and resources for Local Education Agencies (LEAs) regarding the rights of and services available to recently arrived unaccompanied children and youth. The memo includes information and guidance about immediate enrollment, free school meals, immunizations, and the English-Language Learner (ELL) identification process for unaccompanied children and youth.

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Laws & Guidance

New York State Education Law Section 3209, Education of Homeless Children

NYS Education Law
Section 3209 describes the rights of students in temporary housing in New York State.

Important changes to New York Education Law Section 3209 went into effect on April 20, 2017. The changes to this law reflect changes to the federal McKinney-Vento Act that were made under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

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Laws & Guidance

New York State Education Law Section 3209, Education of Homeless Children - Marked Up Version

NYS Education Law Section 3209 describes the rights of students in temporary housing in New York State.

Important changes to New York Education Law Section 3209 went into effect on April 20, 2017. The changes to this law reflect changes to the federal McKinney-Vento Act that were made under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This is the marked-up version of Education Law § 3209 that highlights the changes.

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Regional Bilingual Education - Resource Networks (RBE-RNs)

The Goal of the RBE-RNs is to help school districts and school buildings create an educational environment which will engage English Language Learners, as well as all students, in meaningful teaching and learning. It is crucial to create an environment with respect for diversity, opportunities for all children to achieve at the highest levels and supports for ELLS to become skilled in the English language while capitalizing on their strengths in terms of their native language and heritage.

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Resources for ELLs in New York City

The New York City Department of Education translates many surveys, notifications, and other documents for parents of English Language Learners. Translations are available on this page, in addition to other resources.

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Guides & Fact Sheets

Toolkit for Undocumented Students

A Guide for Undocumented Students Going Through the College Matriculation Process

From CARA: Undocumented young people have a right to college. This toolkit is for them. The purpose of this resource is to help undocumented students realize their college dreams by presenting new ways to look at the college application process. We also hope educators, counselors, undocufriendly organizations, parent(s)/guardian(s), and young people will use this toolkit to help undocumented students pursue higher education, regardless of their immigration status.

About the Source

College Access: Research & Action (CARA). CARA’s mission is to ensure that first-generation college students, low-income students, and students of color have the knowledge and support necessary to enroll in and persist through college.