NYS-TEACHS › Info by Topic: Immigrant Students

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Immigrant Students

Resources | Laws and Guidance

Immigrant students who experience homelessness are protected under the McKinney-Vento Act, regardless of their immigration status. Under Federal law, school districts are required to provide all children, regardless of immigration or housing status, with equal access to public education at the elementary and secondary level. As the 1982 Supreme Court case, Plyler v. Doe, made clear, even if a student is undocumented or a non-citizen, the student's status (and the status of his or her parent or guardian) is irrelevant to that student's right to a public education. Click on the links below to learn more about immigrant students and homeless education.

Immigrant Students - Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Find answers to commonly asked questions about educational services for immigrant children and youth.


Immigrant and Refugee Children: A Guide for Educators and School Support Staff

This guide was created for educators, school support staff and service providers who teach, mentor and help open the doors of opportunity for undocumented youth and unaccompanied and refugee children currently living in the United States. Educators, school support staff and service providers are often the first people a student and/or family talk with about their status as undocumented, and the needs that they may have.

Fact Sheet: Educational Services for Immigrant Children and Those Recently Arrived to the United States [PDF]

This fact sheet from the United States Department of Education provides information to help Local Educational Agencies (LEAs include school districts, BOCES, and charter schools) to understand their responsibilities, and it also includes resources available to educate all immigrant students.

Unaccompanied Immigrant Children: Education and Homelessness [PDF]

This brief by the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) is designed to assist McKinney-Vento liaisons and other education staff to provide services and support to unaccompanied immigrant children.

Unaccompanied Immigrant Children and McKinney-Vento Flowchart [PDF]

This flowchart explains the overall process (from apprehension through placement) that unaccompanied immigrant children may experience after their arrival in the U.S

Legal Issues for School Districts Related to the Education of Undocumented Children [PDF]

This document, issued jointly by the National School Board Association (NSBA) and the National Education Association (NEA), answers frequently asked questions from school administrators about the rights and responsibilities schools have with respect to undocumented students.

Immigration and Schools: Supporting Success for Undocumented and Unaccompanied Homeless Youth [PDF]

Attending school and gaining securing lawful status in the United States are two keys to safety and security for undocumented unaccompanied homeless youth. This brief co-authored by the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) and Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), is designed for young people, immigration attorneys and advocates, McKinney-Vento liaisons, and other educators. It provides information about federal laws that can help undocumented youth who are homeless to attend school and address their immigration status.

Immigrant and Homeless: Information for Local Liaisons and Information for School District Title III Program and Community Agencies [PDF]

These issue briefs from the National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) explain the challenges many immigrant and refugee families encounter in adjusting to life in the United States, including integrating into the U.S. public school system. The memos describe methods for determining homelessness among immigrant and refugee families and strategies for supporting the integration of immigrant and refugee children into the U.S. schools are discussed.

For immigrant and undocumented students:

CUNY Citizenship Now! This project, based at the City University of New York (CUNY), provides free, high quality, and confidential citizenship and immigration law services to help individuals and families on their path to U.S. citizenship.

Central American Refugee Center (CARACEN-NY) This organization provides legal services, advocacy, and other support to immigrant communities in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Immigrant Services Directory: Public Resources for Intake Referrals This guide from the American Civil Liberties Union outlines available resources, contact information, and referral processes for those seeking assistance for immigrant children and youth. The guide is organized state-by-state.

NCHE PowerPoint on Undocumented Homeless Youth Serving Undocumented Homeless Youth: Immigrant and Education Issues and Resources. This PowerPoint from the National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) has information for service providers about how to help undocumented youth with access to school, scholarships, legal resources, and information about paths to legal status.

For Immigrant Students and English Language Learners (ELLs):

Regional Bilingual Education - Resource Networks (RBE-RNs) The Goal of the RBE-RNs is to help school districts and school buildings create an educational environment which will engage English Language Learners, as well as all students, in meaningful teaching and learning. It is crucial to create an environment with respect for diversity, opportunities for all children to achieve at the highest levels and supports for ELLS to become skilled in the English language while capitalizing on their strengths in terms of their native language and heritage.

Resources for ELLs in New York City The New York City Department of Education translates many surveys, notifications, and other documents for parents of English Language Learners. Translations are available on this page, in addition to other resources.

*To learn more about immigrant and refugee students, please visit the National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE).

Laws and Guidance

A.G. Schneiderman And State Education Commissioner Elia Advise Schools On Protecting Immigrant Students

After federal immigration-related actions that have created fear and confusion in New York and across the country, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia reminded school districts of their duty to comply with existing state and federal laws that ensure the rights of immigrant children to attend New York's public schools without fear of reprisal.

NYSED Field Memo: Guidance Relating to the Right of Individuals Over Compulsory School Age to Attend High School

This May 2016 memo explains that all individuals, regardless of citizenship, who reside in New York State (NYS) and are between the ages of 5 and 21, have the right to a free public high school education in their school district of residence.

A Guide to Understanding the New Rules for School Registration

In July 2015, NYSED Commissioner's Regulations governing enrollment of students in public school were amended to ensure that all students, and in particular unaccompanied youth, have timely access to school. The Regulations require that school districts accept a broader range of documents to establish residency and establish timelines for making residency determinations. The NYSED has produced brochures in multiple languages that districts can provide to parents so that they better understand the enrollment process. The brochure is currently available in: English, Spanish, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, French, Haitian-Creole, Karen, Nepali, Russian, and Urdu.

NYSED Field Memo: Guidance Regarding Out-of-State/Country Children who become Homeless and Tuition Reimbursement

This March 2015 Field Memo from the NY State Education Department clarifies that schools districts cannot get additional state aid for instruction (also referred to as tuition reimbursement) through the STAC 202 process for students experiencing homelessness who were last permanently housed outside of New York State.

Educational Services for Recently Arrived Unaccompanied Children

The New York State Education Department issued this September 10, 2014 letter to all school districts regarding educational services for recently arrived unaccompanied immigrant children, many of whom may be eligible for services under the McKinney-Vento Act.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Undocumented students in temporary housing are protected by the McKinney-Vento Act. On June 15, 2012, the Obama Administration issued a memo announcing that the U.S. would not deport certain undocumented persons who entered the United States as children. This memo is known as "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)." Deferred action means that, even though the individual is undocumented and subject to deportation, the government agrees to not take actions to remove the person from the United States. It is important to note that a grant of deferred action does not grant that person citizenship, and it does not change an individual's existing immigration status, nor provide a path to citizenship. For more information about DACA, including FAQs and guidelines, please visit the Immigrant Legal Resource Center's website. Please note: as of June 16, 2017 the DACA program is still available and accepting applications.


Workshops and Training Materials

Training and Workshop Materials