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Terms and Definitions


Refers to youth who are eligible and have applied and received the documentation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Please visit the National UnDACAmented Research Project for more information.


DREAMers refers to students who are undocumented and are also part of the DREAM Act movement. DREAMer is a term commonly used by students who connect with the DREAM Act movement, and sometimes used as a way to navigate away from the negative connotations given to terms such as undocumented, immigrant, non-U.S. citizen, and so forth.  


Refers to individuals who have entered the U.S. without presenting normative government accreditation (i.e. visa).  


NEIU considers any student who currently holds a visa of any type or is seeking a visa to be international. Undocumented students are not viewed as international applicants because many do not qualify for a visa. In addition, undocumented students do not have to go through the international admission process.

Legal Citizenship:

Is obtained by individuals who are residing in the U.S. legally due to the attainment of permanent residency or citizenship through a visa or green card. These individuals obtain a social security number (SSN).


Mixed Status family refers to students that either are, 1) undocumented, but have family members that are U.S. residents or U.S. citizens and/or 2) are U.S. residents or a U.S. citizen, but have family members that are undocumented. In this case it is important to know because it may affect the way a student fills out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).


The non-citizen category applies to students who are not U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents of the United States and who do not hold a valid visa or who are not seeking a visa for study or documentation for residency in the U.S.


Refers to an individual who entered the United States with proper documentation but stayed in the United States after their tourist, visitor, or student visa expired; thus his/her status is now "undocumented"

Residency Status:

Refers to in-state or out-of-state residency for purposes of tuition assessment.  Normally, residents of the state of Illinois are assessed in-state tuition, and all other students are assessed out-of-state tuition. 


“Undocumented” refers to students who are not U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents of the United States, who do not hold a visa to reside in the U.S., and who have not applied for legal residency in the U.S. In many, but not all, cases the term non-citizen refers to undocumented students. Undocumented students are eligible to apply for and be admitted to NEIU. Undocumented students are not eligible for federal financial aid. Note: the “i” word should be avoided because no human being is “illegal," a term that is dehumanizing and hurtful.

Undocumented Student Resources

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