House Passage of Build Back Better Act and Expansion of Federal Financial Aid to DACA and TPS Holders Represent Historic Win

Legislation also contains parole provisions to protect undocumented immigrants

November 19, 2021
CONTACT: Jose Magaña-Salgado (

WASHINGTON, D.C.— After long negotiations and fierce advocacy, the House has passed their version of the FY 2022 budget reconciliation legislation, also known as the Build Back Better Act, which the Senate will consider through the reconciliation process in the coming weeks. The Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration commends this passage as an essential next step toward essential immigration relief. We especially commend the inclusion of provisions expanding federal financial aid to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders; and extending parole protections to roughly seven million undocumented immigrants. The United States is home to approximately 427,000 undocumented students enrolled in higher education, 181,000 of whom are DACA holders or DACA-eligible. 

As true reform involves a roadmap to citizenship, Congress must understand these provisions to be a down payment to that end. Whether the provisions below are passed in this legislation or not, Congress’s job will not be done. The Presidents’ Alliance will continue to push for the passage of a roadmap to citizenship.

Of the essential provisions in the Build Back Better Act, we highlight our support for several major provisions:

  • Expansion of Federal Student Aid Eligibility. The bill also expands federal student aid eligibility to include students who hold deferred action, such as DACA or TPS. Access to federal financial aid will represent a key driver to dramatically expand higher education access to these immigrant students.
  • Parole. The proposed language includes work permits and protection from deportation for eligible individuals for a period of five years, renewable once for a total of ten years. This provision will cover approximately 7.1 million people and includes eligibility for federal and state postsecondary benefits, including admissions to higher education institutions, eligibility for certain state and federal financial aid and scholarships, and other critical social safety net benefits. 
  • Visa Recapture. These provisions would allow the United States to allocate over one million green cards previously authorized by Congress and lost to bureaucracy. The current visa backlog for family- and employment-based visas is in the millions, and wait times in some categories stretch for decades. 

We look forward to working with the Senate to ensure the final version of the bill also enhances, not deters, international students from choosing to study in the United States. At a time when our country has  experienced four consecutive years of declines in new international student enrollments, the final legislation should include language that helps our colleges and universities compete for international students and scholars, such as expanding dual intent for F-1 visas. 


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 advance just, forward-looking immigration policies and practices at the federal, state, and campus levels that are consistent with our heritage as a nation of immigrants and the academic values of equity and openness. The Alliance is composed of over 500 presidents and chancellors of public and private colleges and universities, enrolling over five million students in 43 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico.