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Virginia Policy

Updated As Of: April 20, 2017

  • HB 1465, introduced in 2011, would have prevented undocumented students from enrolling in public colleges and universities.
  • HB 779, introduced in 2012, would have extended in-state tuition eligibility to undocumented students meeting certain requirements.
  • In April 2014, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced that under current state law, DACA recipients qualify for in-state tuition.
  • HB 1857 was introduced in January 2017. If passed, it would grant undocumented students in-state tuition if they meet the following requirements: (i) attended a public or private high school in Virginia for at least three years, (ii) graduated from a public or private high school in Virginia or passed a high school equivalency examination, (iii) registers as an entering student or is enrolled at an institution of higher education, (iv) provides an affidavit to the institution of higher education that states that the student has filed an application to become a permanent resident of the United States or will do so when eligible, (v) submits to the institution evidence that they, or in the case of a dependent student, a parent or guardian, has filed Virginia income tax returns for at least three years prior to the date of registration or enrollment at the institution. The bill would also keep DACA recipients from losing eligibility for in-state tuition, even if the DACA program is modified or eliminated.
  • Several restrictive bills that would have affected immigrants were introduced in recent years but failed to pass.
  • HB 1866, introduced in January 2017, would prohibit issuing licenses, permits, or identification cards to applicants who are not a citizen of the United States, a legal permanent resident of the United States, or a conditional resident alien in the United States if passed.
  • HB 2001, introduced in January 2017, would require public institutions of higher education to cooperate in the enforcement of federal immigration law. 
  • HB 2000 states that "No locality shall adopt any ordinance, procedure, or policy that restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws." It was vetoed by the Governor, but the House voted to override the veto on April 5, 2017. 

Proponents

Federal law has been unsuccessful at addressing comprehensive access to postsecondary education for undocumented students. Despite efforts to pass the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform, Congress has not addressed the current ambiguous language in IIRIRA regarding undocumented students' eligibility for educational benefits (i.e. in-state tuition and state-funded financial aid programs). Therefore, much of the policy activity regarding postsecondary access for undocumented students has shifted to state and system levels. As a result, state policymakers and higher education institutions take varied approaches to either broadening or restricting access to postsecondary education and educational benefits. Others states have yet to take formal action on this issue, leaving the decision to individual campus leaders.

Under the provisions of this ambiguous policy context, undocumented youth encounter contentious environments with policies that range from inclusive, restrictive, or unstipulated stances.

Inclusive: States with policies that explicitly grant in-state tuition and/or eligibility for public financial aid for undocumented students.

Restrictive: States with policies that explicitly deny eligibility for admission and/or in-state tuition for undocumented students.

Unstipulated: States that do not have stated policies that explicitly address undocumented student access to postsecondary education.

State and system policies are volatile and continuously changing. For the latest, please visit the uLEAD NewsdeskFor information specific to individual state context, click in the subheadings below.

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