Supporting Undocumented Students

Supporting Undocumented Students

Duke students, please contact Li-Chen Chin, Assistant Vice President for Intercultural Programs, with questions or concerns that are not answered below. You can reach her via email at or by phone at 919-684-5480.

Frequently Asked Questions

A: Duke welcomes applications from undocumented and DACA students, and uses the same "need-blind" process as applicants who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. The need-blind model allows Duke to create a class characterized by both exceptional talent and meaningful diversity. If you are interested in applying for Duke for undergraduate study, please consult the Admissions Office. If you are interested in applying for graduate/professional study, please check with the school/program directly.

A: The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services continutes to accept DACA applicants from individuals who currently have or previously had DACA. For more detailed information, please consult US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Although the fate of the DACA program remains uncertain, Duke is firmly committed to protecting the right of all students to learn and discover, regardless of their background or immigration status.

A: US Citizenship and Immigration Services has the authority to revoke or terminate an advance parole document at any time. Effective September 5, 2017, USCIS no longer approves any new applications for advance parole under standards associated with the DACA program. If your DACA and/or advance parole document is revoked while you are abroad, you may not be allowed to re-enter the US by US Customs and Border Protection, which has the authority in determining the admissibility of any person presenting at the border.

A: A student may not be able to travel outside the U.S. for various reasons. Academic programs such as Duke Immerse that may include international travel will provide a parallel local or domestic experience for students who are not able to leave the U.S. Please consult with the faculty and/or your academic dean if you see a course or an academic program you are interested in to discuss it in detail. 

A: Please appoint a family member or a trusted friend as your representative. If you are stopped or detained off campus, ask your representative to page the Dean-on-call at 919-970-4169, and the Dean-on-call will respond and connect you with appropriate resources.

A: If you earned less than $55,000, you are eligible for free tax preparation assistance from Duke Law School’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA). You can get more information at the VITA site.

A: It is normal to feel anxious at this time of uncertainty. You should seek support from others, such as family, friends, religious/spiritual communities, student groups, and your Duke advisors. Duke Counseling and Psychological Services provides professional support and adheres to confidentiality rules that protect all students' privacy. It also provides a list of resources on how to care for oneself and others.

A: If you have been granted deferred action under DACA, you are eligible to apply for a North Carolina driver's license for the duration of your permission to remain in the US, and if you meet all other statutory requirements. For more information consult North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles. 

A: If you entered the US without inspection, you do not have an immigration status. DACA approval does not grant you a valid status. If you entered the US legally but overstayed, and you are over the age of 18, you may be accumulating time toward “unlawful presence” in the US and subject to a 3- or 10-year bar from re-entering the US. Please consult with an immigration attorney who can evaluate your circumstances.

A: Please consult your home school's class attendance and missed work policy.  If you need financial assistance for travel, please consult with your financial support counselor.  

A: You should apply for a passport immediately. Contact a consul of your country of birth for more information. If you are going to travel in the US, you should carry a valid passport and a folder that contains your DACA application, approval notice, employment authorization document, and be ready for inspection if requested.

A: The US immigration regulations define “child” as an unmarried person under the age of 21. A “child” can be deported. If you are concerned that you may not be able to take care of certain matters for yourself, you may consider appointing a family member or a trusted friend the power to make decisions on your behalf or "Power of Attorney". For more information, please consult the North Carolina Bar Association.

A: You can find a list of domestic summer opportunities and graduate opportunities as well as graduate schools with support for DACA/undocumented students through Office of Undergraduate Scholars and Fellows

You can also get email updates and schedule an advising meeting online.

A:  Duke offers many programs outside of Durham, including the Duke Marine Lab. The Global Education Office administers semester programs in DC, New York, and Los Angeles as well as summer programs in Alaska, Chicago, New York, and Silicon Valley. DukeEngage offers immersive summer service programs throughout the U.S. 


"In an attempt to press the timeliness of DACA and immigration reform, Duke DACA recipients and allies are challenging key congressmen on Capitol Hill.

Despite finals fast approaching, roughly a dozen Duke students travelled to Washington, D.C., for two days of meetings with legislators and staff to urge Congress to consider a DACA fix in their end-of-year work.

“Our main priority was to share our story,” said Axel Herrera Ramos, speaking for the group Duke Define American. “To show and express that what was decided about DACA and the way Congress is handling immigration right now has truly harmful implications on our lives.”

Define American is a nonprofit organization dedicated to rewriting the debate about immigration reform and American identity. According to the group’s website, they use “the power of story to transcend politics and shift the conversation about immigrants, identity and citizenship in a changing America.” 

The students met with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) as well as staff for Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.). They met with Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) last week in North Carolina.

“Making our request in person was the most powerful thing we could do,” said Ramos. “We cannot vote, and we cannot make demands that a U.S. citizen can, but we can certainly show that we exist, that we have strived to succeed in this country and contribute as much as we can.

“Our main ask was that congress act on what is now in their hands, to pass a bill that does not place restrictive measures on us in the future or exclude DREAMERS who did not have DACA at the time but were eligible, and that does not jeopardize the lives of our families.”

Although many of their meetings were with DACA and Dreamer “allies” on the Hill, several members of Congress were less vocal in about DACA but offered unexpected color to the conversation on immigration reform.

When given the opportunity, as they had directly with Rubio, Duke’s Define American group did not shy away from discussing immigration reform writ large.

“Although we focused a lot on the humanity of immigration reform and how the lack of reform has affected our families and lives, we also tried to discuss in our meetings how this is a reflection of an overall greater problem in the immigration system,” said Ramos. “We discussed how sometimes a single sheet of paper was the difference between being documented or not in this country and how it often came down to getting lucky in the geographic lottery.”

Duke has an institutional interest in protecting DACA students as well as in clear and responsible immigration reform. On Sept. 6, President Price issued a statementdeclaring, “In light of the decision to end DACA, Duke University restates its firm commitment to protecting the right of all students to learn and discover here, regardless of their background or immigration status.”

Among Duke’s immigration concerns, DACA and DACA student well-being have taken precedence."

Find the full article here


"Duke is one of 19 leading research universities who have signed on to an amici brief supporting plaintiffs challenging President Trump’s new rules covering the young people participating in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program.

The case combines actions filed by the University of California system, the states of California, Maryland and Minnesota, the city of San Jose and a half-dozen students affected by the new DACA rules. It will be heard in US District Court in the Northern District of California.

The 19 universities all have DACA students enrolled. The brief provides short bios for some of the students and notes the obstacles they have overcome to make it to college and the contributions they are making both to their communities and to the university.

“The DACA students at amici institutions were selected because they are outstanding students,” the brief states. “Like their classmates, these young people were valedictorians, student government leaders, varsity athletes, inventors, academic award winners, accomplished artists, and role models for younger children in their communities. And like many of their classmates, they are the pride of the neighborhoods in which they grew up—‘local kids who made good.’”

November 3, 2017

“In light of the decision to end DACA, Duke University restates its firm commitment to protecting the right of all students to learn and discover here, regardless of their background or immigration status. These talented young men and women clearly deserve the opportunity to be members of the Duke community, which is enriched and strengthened by their contributions.

“Duke has taken, and will continue to take, steps to support members of the community who may be affected, including:  providing resources and guidance to students and employees, and making referrals to legal aid when necessary; maintaining confidentiality of student and employee records to the fullest extent of the law; continuing to meet the full demonstrated financial need for undocumented students; and strongly advocating for a long-term resolution through the DREAM Act and similar efforts. 

“Our core values compel us to protect the rights of students and employees who embody what James B. Duke called “character, determination and an ambition for life.”

Duke University President Vincent E. Price sent the following letter to President Donald Trump today regarding proposed changes in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program: More.

"On March 16, the higher education community sent a letter to President Donald J. Trump thanking him for his positive comments about 'Dreamers' and asking him to allow these productive and high-achieving individuals to continue working and studying while his administration and Congress arrive at a permanent solution regarding their immigration status. It was signed by more than 560 college and university presidents and sent by ACE on behalf of itself and a number of major higher education associations." More.

Durham Police Chief Cerelyn "C.J." Davis said that as a mother and resident, she is concerned about what is happening in the nation. "Checkpoints in the city of Durham have been directed to cease and desist," Davis said. More.

Amid growing concern in the community, police chiefs in Chapel Hill and Carrboro told 500 Latinos this week that local police are not out looking for people in the country illegally. More.

U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., spent more than an hour taking questions from constituents Saturday at Hillside High School. More.

Duke joined 16 other universities in filing an amicus brief opposing the Trump administration's immigration order.

Each of the 17 universities "has a global mission, and each derives immeasurable benefit from the contributions of diverse students, faculty and scholars from around the world," the brief says. "Because (the universities) seek to educate future leaders from nearly every continent, attract the world's best scholars, faculty and students, and work across international borders, they rely on the ability to welcome international students, faculty and scholars into their communities." Read the full article