In an effort to make college more affordable for more nonimmigrant visa holders, Assembly Democrats Raj Mukherji, Andrew Zwicker and Verlina Reynolds-Jackson sponsor a bill that would expand in-state tuition and financial aid eligibility requirements. The legislation passed the full Assembly Monday, 54-17-0.
Nonimmigrant visa holders have permanent residence outside of the United States, but enter the country for a limited period for several reasons such as temporary work.
The bill (A-5740/S-3119) would amend a 2019 law to allow students who hold a T or U visa and dependent students whose parents or guardians hold an O-1 or O-2 visa to qualify for resident tuition rates at any of New Jersey’s public higher education institutions. The bill stipulates that, in accordance with a 2013 law, students looking to receive in-state tuition must have:
- Attended a high school in New Jersey for three or more years;
- Graduated from a high school in New Jersey or received the equivalent of a high school diploma in New Jersey;
- Registered as an entering student, or be currently enrolled in a New Jersey public institution of higher education not earlier than the fall semester of the 2013-2014 academic year; and
- In the case of a person without lawful immigration status, filed an affidavit with the institution of higher education stating that the student has filed an application to legalize his immigration status or will file an application as soon as he is eligible to do so.
The bill would also allow qualifying students holding T visas, which are issued to victims of human trafficking, or U visas, which are issued to victims of serious criminal activity, to participate in any financial aid, grant, or scholarship program available through the State.
Upon Assembly approval of the legislation, Assembly sponsors Mukherji (D-Hudson), Zwicker (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon) and Reynolds-Jackson (D-Mercer, Hunterdon) issued the following joint statement:
“Many NJ students who are the children of nonimmigrant visa holders have attended K-12 schools in New Jersey and have lived here for years. This bill serves to benefit students who are the product of our public school system by ensuring that they can afford to continue receiving the high quality education that New Jersey promises at the collegiate level, regardless of their citizenship or permanent residency status.
“The bill also creates an opportunity for T or U visa holding survivors of human trafficking, domestic abuse, and other serious crimes to take advantage of the State’s financial aid, grants, and scholarships to obtain an education and achieve economic security.”
Having previously passed the full Senate, the legislation now heads to the Governor.