Contrary to popular belief, the DREAM Act has NOT been passed into law. The President announced “deferred action” for people who would have otherwise qualified for the DREAM Act. Please see our FAQ on deferred action here.
Congress has yet to pass the DREAM Act. The DREAM Act has four basic requirements which are:
- You entered the country before the age of 16;
- You graduate high school or obtain a GED;
- You have good moral character (no criminal record); and
- You have at least five years of continuous presence in the US.
In recent years, the legislation has required people to be below the age of 30. If you meet the above criteria, once the DREAM Act passes, you will then have six years within which to obtain a two-year college degree or complete two-years of military service. Upon doing all of this you will gain the chance to adjust your conditional permanent residency to U.S. citizenship.
Please see below for answers to any additional questions you may have, if you don’t see something covered then please send us a note and we’ll update the FAQ.
1) I am undocumented and I fall under the 212 (a)(9)(c) law. Would I qualify for the DREAM Act?
2) My visa and/or petition was rejected by INS (USCIS) and I was told I have no right to stay in this country. Do I qualify?
Yes, if you are currently not facing a final deportation order, and fulfill ALL the other requirements, you qualify for the DREAM Act.
3) I came here in 2007 when I was 15 and overstayed my visa. Do I qualify?
That is cutting it close but yes, if the DREAM Act passes after you have been in this country for five full years, you would qualify.
4) I am over the age of 30, do I qualify for DREAM?
Not likely. The 2007 version of DREAM had an age cap of 30. The 2009 version of DREAM ended with a 30 year age cap. If the final DREAM ends with a 30 year age cap it would mean you may be over 30 when you complete your degree, however as along as you are under 30 when the bill is signed into law then you qualify.
5) I have meet all the requirements to apply for citizenship; I have completed two years of college. Can I petition for citizenship without the six-year wait?
Unfortunately, no. This was true back in 2003-2004 when the bill was first introduced. Now everyone has a 6-year wait under the DREAM Act, as lawful residents, that also counts towards the naturalization period for citizenship.
6) Will conditional residency status allow me to work or drive?
Conditional residency is legal residency, only it is re-evaluated after 6 years and contingent on the requirements described above.
Students will be able to drive, work, get federal work study, partake in most activities as legal residents except travel abroad for lengthy periods (an aggregate of 365 days) and Pell Grants eligibility. States are not prohibited from giving these students financial aid under both the House and Senate version of the bill.
Time spent by students in conditional permanent resident status would count towards the residency requirements for naturalization.
7) I am a high-school counselor / professor and a student just ‘came out’ to me. How can I help?
It may be overwhelming at first but assure the student of your support and inform them of the DREAM Act and their rights under the law. It would be good to start a ‘scholarship binder’ for undocumented students as a counselor.
You can refer them to us, to immigration groups listed here and also try to make calls/visits to your local representatives office on behalf of the federal DREAM Act. A powerpoint and brochure will be available soon.
Citizens and legal permanent residents acting on behalf of DREAM and showing their support serves to empower the students so any Op-eds and letters you can write-in would be much appreciated.
Feel free to submit more questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.