The Push to Expand Access to Teacher Certification for DACAmented Educators

A growing number of states are waiving immigration status requirements for obtaining occupational certification, but not Pennsylvania. It is one of several states that require U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residence—which excludes DACA recipients—to be eligible for occupational licenses such as teacher certification, according to the Higher Ed Immigration Portal, a project of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. DACA, which former President Barack Obama established through executive action in 2012, provides temporary relief from deportation, grants the legal ability to work, and activates other benefits for eligible adults who were brought into the U.S. as children.

Only five states—California, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, and New Jersey—have policies allowing individuals to receive teacher certification and all other forms of occupational licensure regardless of immigration status. A few states, such as New York, West Virginia, and Arkansas, have recently passed laws specifically allowing teacher certification eligibility for DACA recipients.

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