Higher Education Leaders Applaud The Biden Administration For Expanding Protections for Dreamers

For Immediate Release: June 18, 2024

Higher Education Leaders Applaud The Biden Administration For Expanding Protections For Dreamers

To learn more about these relief policies and D-3 Waivers, we encourage you to register for our briefing on July 10th and review our explainer on D-3 Waivers.

Washington D.C. – Today, on June 18, 2024, the Biden-Harris Administration is announcing a suite of affirmative relief policies that could provide protections to long-term residents, including Dreamers. Amidst legal challenges to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and an ongoing Congressional stalemate, these actions represent a significant move to support eligible DACA recipients and other Dreamers.

The announcement will also provide additional guidance on the existing D-3 waiver program, aimed at clarifying and providing greater guidance to critical employment-based visas for eligible Dreamers.

“Streamlining access to employment-based visas for eligible DACA recipients and other Dreamers is a smart, strategic approach that enables these individuals to adjust their status and fill critical workforce needs while ensuring that U.S. employers and communities benefit from their contributions and talent,” said Anita Gupta, Managing Attorney of Legal Programs and Initiatives at the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. “Dreamers are integral members of our campus communities, pursuing and obtaining undergraduate and graduate degrees in essential fields. This action will provide stability and ease the anxiety of hundreds of thousands of eligible Dreamers, who currently face uncertainty about their collective futures.”

Hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients are employed nationwide, and over 400,000 undocumented students are currently enrolled in higher education. Many of these individuals are multilingual and are actively pursuing careers in fields such as STEM, healthcare, and education. Educated in the U.S., Dreamers represent ideal candidates for employment-based visas like the H-1B. However, many encounter challenges such as the 3-/10-year unlawful presence bars incurred when leaving the U.S. for visa processing. Updating guidance to facilitate access to D-3 waivers is essential for creating accessible employment pathways, benefiting both Dreamers and the broader workforce.

Dan Berger, partner at Curran, Berger & Kludt, and Immigration Fellow at Cornell Law School, stated, “Having worked for many years as an immigration attorney and processed D-3 waivers, I welcome the new guidance. Seeing firsthand how D-3 waivers have opened doors for doctors, nurses, financial analysts, and other young people eager to work has been incredibly rewarding. I have been working with Path2Papers, a project of Cornell Law School focused on helping DACA recipients move into lawful status through employer sponsorship. Before this guidance, many employers and employees were afraid to try. I hope that streamlining the D-3 process will help many more feel comfortable to move forward on the path to a green card.”

The administrative action also provides some protections for the undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens. Specifically, Parole in Place will allow individuals married to U.S. citizens to adjust their status without having to leave the country and potentially be subjected to re-entry bars. Updates to this existing policy stands to benefit upwards of 90,000 Dreamers.

Gaby Pacheco, President and CEO of TheDream.US said, “Today’s executive actions mark a critical step forward in ensuring that more Americans, including Dreamers facing uncertain futures, are empowered to contribute to our nation’s workforce. By streamlining access to employment-based visas for Dreamers with and without DACA, the Biden administration is expanding opportunities for immigrants who have grown up in this nation and are ready to contribute to our economy and their communities. By providing clear guidance and leveraging tools like the D-3 waiver, this announcement will open pathways for college-educated and workforce-ready Dreamers to adjust their status, addressing urgent workforce needs and benefiting communities and employers nationwide. Meanwhile, the new common sense protections announced for the spouses of U.S. citizens will keep more American families together.”

Last month, The Presidents’ Alliance launched the Legal Pathways that Work (LPTW) Initiative to develop and deliver employment-based immigration resources to institutions and their non-citizen students, supporting their career pathways in the U.S. post-graduation. With the launch of this new initiative, the Presidents’ Alliance and TheDream.US are eager to collaborate with the White House, higher education institutions, and supporting organizations to ensure that eligible DACA recipients and other Dreamers can navigate existing pathways to employment-based visas, contributing their skills and talents to our nation’s workforce.

Register Now! To learn more about the impacts of these administrative actions and D-3 waivers, please register for our briefing on July 10th at 2 PM ET.

For more information on D-3 Waivers, please review our explainer.


The nonpartisan, nonprofit Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration brings college and university presidents and chancellors together on the immigration issues that impact higher education, our students, campuses, communities and nation. We work to support undocumented, international and refugee students, and advance forward-looking immigration policies and practices at the federal level, in our states, and across our college campuses. The Alliance is composed of 550+ college and university presidents and chancellors of public and private colleges and universities, enrolling over five million students in 42 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

TheDream.US is the nation’s largest college and career success program for undocumented immigrant students, having provided more than 10,000 college scholarships to Dreamers attending over 80 partner colleges in 21 states and Washington, DC. We believe everyone, regardless of where they were born, should have equitable access to a college education, a meaningful career, and opportunities to contribute to the communities they call home. For more information on TheDream.US, visit

Cornell Law School’s Path2Papers project focuses on helping DACA recipients in the San Francisco Bay Area pursue work visas and other pathways to legal permanent residency. This is one of the only programs in the country that combines experience in employer representation with expertise in evaluating immigration options for DACA recipients.