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Utah Policy

Updated As Of: April 20, 2017

The state of Utah provides undocumented students with in-state tuition eligibility.

HB 144 | Student Eligibility Requirements: 

  • Attend a high school in Utah for three or more years
  • Graduate from a Utah high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma (GED) before the start of the school term
  • Cannot have registered for classes prior to the 2002-2003 academic year 
  • File an application to legalize immigration status, or be willing to file an application when eligible
  • Universities will likely require an HB 144 Tuition Waiver Request and will only consider applicants that cannot hold a non-immigrant visa 
  • In March 2015, SB 253 was signed into law by the Governor of Utah. This bill allows all students access to privately-funded scholarships administered by public universities, regardless of immigration status.
  • HB 191, introduced in 2011, would have ended in-state tuition for undocumented students but failed to pass.
  • HB 7, introduced in 2006, would have revoked undocumented students' access to in-state tuition but failed to pass.
  • HB 144, passed in 2002, makes qualifying undocumented students eligible for in-state tuition.
  • SB 251effective July 2010, requires private employers with 15 or more employees to enroll in a status verification program to verify workers' legal status.
  • SB 81 requires public entities to enroll in E-Verify to verify the eligibility of new employees as of July 2009.

Several immigration-related laws were signed on March 15, 2011: 
  • HB 116 made Utah the first state to permit undocumented workers to obtain work permits and residency in state. The Department of Justice has stated that HB 116 is a case of federal preemption and will file a lawsuit if Utah fails to comply with federal law.
  • HB 497 would have allowed law enforcement officials to check the citizenship of anyone arrested. It would also have made transporting and harboring undocumented immigrants a state crime. A coalition of civil rights group filed a lawsuit in May 2011 and the Department of Justice challenged the law on the basis of federal preemption on November 22, 2011. In 2014, a federal district court blocked several provisions of the law.
  • HB 466 would establish a partnership with the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon to allow workers to come to Utah using federal visas. The DOJ has stated that HB 466 is a case of federal preemption and will file a lawsuit if Utah fails to comply with federal law.
  • HB 469  would allow Utah citizens to sponsor foreign nationals to live in Utah. The DOJ has stated that HB 469 is a case of federal preemption and will file a lawsuit if Utah fails to comply with federal law. 
  • SB 225 extends the start date of the guest worker program and pilot resident immigrant program from July 2013 to July 2015. 
  • Utah offers Driving Privilege Cards to undocumented immigrants. The cards cannot be used as a form of picture ID and expire 5 years afrer issued.
  • Utah's English-only prison visitation policy was revoked by Rollin Cook, Executive Director of Utah State Corrections; as of August 1, 2013, all signs advising "All visits wil be conducted in English" were removed. 
  • SB 237, signed by the governor in 2016, extends the start date of the pilot resident immigrant program to 2027. 
  • Edúcate Utah: Through the Mestizo Arts and Activism year-long program, University of Utah students research and document important social issues in their surrounding neighborhoods
  • ACLU of Utah: Affiliated with the national chapter, immigration is one of the many issues on which ACLU-Utah focuses their education and litigation efforts
  • Office for Equity and Diversity at the University of Utah: Offers a variety of programs and resources for a diverse student population.

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.