Undocumented Students FAQs

1. What legal resources are available for undocumented students and/or students who have DACA?

Undocumented students may consult the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) with questions, as well as the Office of Student Success Initiatives (SSI), although neither office can provide legal advice. Because issues surrounding undocumented or DACA status are complex and extremely fact-specific, personalized legal advice is recommended either through a private attorney or through community legal resources. These include:

There are many online resources also available, including:

2. Is there a place I can turn for support or legal advice if I am concerned about family members who are undocumented?

See the response to Question 1 above.

3. Can undocumented students obtain a Texas driver’s license?

DACA applicants don't necessarily need their EAD to apply for a driver’s license (although it probably makes the process smoother), but can use their I-821D approval notice or receipt notice to apply for a driver’s license.

4. Where can I turn for confidential medical and mental health services at Rice? Who can I talk to if I am feeling stressed about my immigration status?

All Rice students have access free of charge to meet with our physicians in Student Health Services and our counselors in the Rice Counseling Center (RCC). Medical records are confidential. We encourage everyone to take advantage of these services to discuss any and all sources of stress. RCC staff are prepared to work with students on mental health issues related to their immigration status.

RCC and Student Wellbeing: wellbeing.rice.edu; x3311
Health Services: x4966

5. Does Rice provide financial support for undocumented and DACA students?

Undocumented and DACA students receive the same financial consideration for aid as domestic students. Rice is need-blind and will cover 100% of the demonstrated need of enrolled undergraduate students regardless of their federal eligibility. Rice awards both need-based and merit scholarships as part of its financial aid program, and undocumented and DACA students are considered for both, including financial assistance provided under the terms of the Rice Investment. For information about the applying for financial aid, please visit https://financialaid.rice.edu/freshman.

6. What is Rice’s policy on the admission of undocumented students? Is there a different policy/practice for graduate student admission?

All undergraduate candidates to Rice are evaluated through a holistic admission evaluation process. We evaluate each student’s accomplishments and performance within the context of their personal circumstances, challenges and opportunities. We evaluate DACA and undocumented students within the context of their U.S. academic experiences. Undocumented and DACA students; they are not disadvantaged through our admissions process. Please visit our website for more information about admissions practices for DACA and Undocumented Students.

7. What happens to my financial aid from Rice if my DACA expires or is revoked?

To be considered for financial aid, students must reapply for assistance each year they are enrolled at Rice. The amount awarded may change from year to year, based on changes in a student’s financial and/or family circumstances. However, once awarded a financial aid package, a student’s aid will not change during the academic year if their DACA status expires.

8. Is there a central point of contact (person or office) at Rice for undocumented and DACA students who have questions or issues?

Jenny Brydon (jbrydon@rice.edu; x6095) in the Office of International Students and Scholars serves as a first point of contact for students with questions about DACA or undocumented student concerns. The Office of the Dean of Undergraduates (ugdean@rice.edu; x4996) and the Office of the Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (graduate@rice.edu; x4002) can also direct students to the appropriate offices and resources for their particular questions or needs.

9. How does Rice protect students’ education records? Do the same practices and laws apply to students’ health records?

The education and health records of undocumented and DACA students are protected in the same manner as are any other students’ records. No differentiation is made between types of students. Education records are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and health records by the Health Improvement Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

10. Does RUPD have a role in enforcement of federal immigration laws?

You may have heard about the state law enacted in 2017, S.B. 4, which is also called the “sanctuary cities” law. See Texas Government Code, §§752.051 – 752,057. S.B. 4 does not require local police agencies, like RUPD, to become active enforcers of federal immigration law. S.B. 4 does prevent police agencies from prohibiting its police officers from inquiring about a person’s immigration status during a lawful stop or arrest; these tend to be very few of the encounters that RUPD officers are involved in with campus community members.

RUPD does not have a specific role in the enforcement of federal immigration laws, with the one exception: If RUPD has someone lawfully arrested and in its custody, and receives an immigration detainer from ICE, RUPD is required to hold the person until an ICE agent has interviewed the person.

11. Is Rice or RUPD required to make any immigration-related reports to the federal government?

Generally no. However, OISS is required to post a change in status in the SEVIS system for students here on non-immigrant visas if their status changes. See also the response to Question 10.

12. Under what circumstances would RUPD ask for identification from a student?

The most common scenario that would require RUPD to ask a student for ID involves verifying identity and student status for such matters as confirming an individual’s right to be in an area of campus or to give a student access to a residential room or academic building. In such cases, the student is required to present their Rice ID card, not a state ID or passport. If a student is stopped for a traffic violation, or if an officer has reasonable suspicion to believe a student may be involved in some type of criminal incident, the student will be asked for either a state ID or passport identification.

13. Under what circumstances is RUPD required to take fingerprints? Is RUPD ever required to share fingerprints with state or federal agencies?

RUPD is required by law to fingerprint anyone who is arrested and charged with a criminal violation. Additionally, RUPD will fingerprint in the event there is need to verify a person’s identity, and the person does not have any other form of identification to prove who they are.

Will the university alert a student if their education records are subpoenaed?

If Rice receives a subpoena for a student’s education records, FERPA requires Rice to notify the student before producing the records. There is one exception to this rule. If Rice receives a grand jury subpoena accompanied by an order from a judge instructing Rice not to notify the student of the subpoena, then we cannot notify the student.

14. What should undocumented or DACA students or employees do if stopped by law enforcement off campus?

While students or employees stopped by the police off campus should ordinarily fully cooperate with officers, how an undocumented individual or an individual whose DACA status has expired should conduct themselves may be a complex situation that depends on the circumstances involved. A number of organizations have already compiled some useful resources for undocumented or DACA persons in these situations; see, for instance, https://www.aclutx.org/en/sb4 and the materials linked on that page.

15. Who should students contact if they are contacted by ICE ERO or if they see ICE on campus?

see #8 above.

16. Are residential college A-Team members (Magisters, RAs, coordinators) instructed on what to do if law enforcement, including ICE and DHS, attempt to enter campus housing?

In the event they are asked by law enforcement for access to university facilities, with or without a warrant, college staff are instructed to ask the officer for their name, identification number and agency affiliation, and, to inform the officer that they are not obstructing their process but need to consult with RUPD for assistance, before granting access.

17. Are undocumented students or DACA students able to hold jobs on campus?

Undocumented students are prohibited from on-campus employment as they do not have the appropriate documentation to satisfy the federal I-9 requirement to verify work eligibility.

DACA students may hold campus jobs if they have applied for and received an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The EAD (Form I-765), known popularly as a "work permit", is a document issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that provides temporary employment authorization to noncitizens in the United States. DACA students with this document are eligible to work within the dates provided on the EAD. See https://www.uscis.gov/greencard/employment-authorization-document for more information about the EAD

18. Are there any obstacles to undocumented students participating in internships or research off campus?

Individual employers will indicate if U.S. work authorization is required for internships or other employment. It is up to students to provide necessary documentation. Students may wish to consult the blog StudentCaffee for helpful information on securing an employment authorization document (EAD).


19. Are undocumented students eligible for admission to medical school, law school, and Masters’ and Ph.D. programs?

An undocumented student can secure admission to medical school but cannot receive any federal financial aid. As an undocumented student, you will find it difficult to go through the medical school process because, while you could apply and be accepted to medical school, you would only be able to complete the first two years of medical school since the process after the second year requires background checks and proof of legal status. If you are certain you want to become a doctor, you may consider applying to medical school outside of the country. Mexico and Cuba, for example, offer great medical programs with good incentives and more affordable prices. However, you should know that leaving the country has risks that should carefully be considered prior to taking action (see Going Abroad Section below).

Other resources:

CNN report on medical school and undocumented students

20. What should undocumented and DACA students know about travel in Texas, to other states, and abroad?

See the answer for #19 below for travel abroad. Unless Advanced Parole is re-instated, then travel outside the USA would probably not allow re-entry.

About travel in Texas, it depends. Travel by car, bus, train, etc. is usually less risky than air travel. If traveling by car, it is important to abide by all traffic laws and ensure the car is in good condition (no broken taillights, for example), and compliant with all laws (valid license plates and registration stickers, for example), to avoid being stopped unnecessarily by police. It is important to note that Customs and Border Patrol are able to operate and set up immigration checkpoints anywhere within 100 miles of an external boundary. Houston is within this zone. You can read more about the 100 mile zone here

21. What should I do if I take a class that includes embedded travel? Can I participate in experiential learning opportunities that involve travel, such as Alternative Spring Break?

Advance Parole applications are no longer being accepted due to the rescission of DACA on 9/5/2017. Therefore, study abroad will no longer be an option for undocumented students who have been approved for DACA.

If you are undocumented and studying abroad is a requirement for your degree, please contact your academic advisor to discuss the domestic options available for you to fulfill that requirement.

22. What is the impact of the Real ID act on travel within the U.S.?

The following should be accepted when traveling by air: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification.

More info on REAL ID: https://www.dhs.gov/real-id-public-faqs; https://www.dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense/federalRealIdAct.htm.

23. I am a DACA or undocumented student and have questions about on-campus housing. What should I do?

DACA and undocumented undergraduates who have questions about their housing should contact their college Magister. DACA and undocumented graduate students who have questions about housing should contact the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

UPDATED November 2020