Frequently Asked Questions

Georgetown’s Support for Undocumented Students: Frequently Asked Questions

Date Updated: September 27, 2018

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) 


Q. What is DACA?

On June 15, 2012, President Obama announced that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would not deport certain undocumented youth who came to the United States as children, commonly referred to as “Dreamers.” DHS issued a directive granting these individuals temporary permission to stay in the U.S. This program is called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA does not grant a legal status or offer a permanent residency or citizenship for these individuals but directs that they will not be deported for a period of time.

Individuals are eligible for DACA if they were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, were under the age of 31 at that time, came to the U.S. before their 16th birthday, continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, are currently in school or have graduated with a GED, have not been convicted of a felony or significant misdemeanors, and pose no threat to national security or public safety.

Q. What is the current status of the DACA program?

On September 5, 2017, the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security issued a memorandum rescinding the June 15, 2012 action that established the DACA program.  As a result of the memorandum, various lawsuits were filed to halt the program’s termination. On January 9, 2018, Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted a preliminary injunction — a temporary order blocking the termination of the DACA program while the case goes forward — requiring U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to begin accepting DACA renewal applications again. Various challenges to the DACA program, and to its rescission, are ongoing in the courts.

Q. Who is currently eligible for DACA status?

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is not currently accepting requests from individuals who have never before been granted deferred action under DACA. Due to federal court orders on January 9, 2018 and February 13, 2018, USCIS has resumed accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under DACA.

If you previously received DACA and your DACA expired on or after Sept. 5, 2016, you may still file your DACA request as a renewal request. If you previously received DACA and your DACA expired before Sept. 5, 2016, or your most recent DACA grant was previously terminated, you cannot request DACA as a renewal (because renewal requests typically must be submitted within one year of the expiration date of your last period of deferred action approved under DACA), but you may nonetheless file a new initial DACA request.

Q. My DACA status is expiring, is now a good time to renew it?  

We recommend that students consult with Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services  for free legal aid for students interested in renewing DACA. Presently, individuals whose DACA expires into December 2019 can renew. 

Q. What happens if my DACA renewal request is currently pending?

Since January 2018, USCIS has been processing and accepting applications for renewal. However, because DACA-related court cases are pending in various federal courts, the future of the DACA renewal program may be available indefinitely, or it may be stopped depending on future developments in these court cases.

Q. Can I submit a first-time application for DACA?

If you have never had DACA before, you may not submit an application now. Only people who have had DACA at some point in the past can submit a renewal application.

Q. I am a student with DACA status, is it OK to fly domestically at this time?

According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766), also known as your DACA work permit, is acceptable proof of identification for flying within the continental United States. If you do not have a valid work permit, or any federally issued identification, a valid passport from the country of origin is also acceptable proof of identification for flying domestically.

Q. I am a student with DACA status, is it OK to travel internationally at this time?

Currently USCIS is not accepting applications for advance parole (approval to leave the country and re-enter the country and maintain DACA status). Current DACA recipients are advised not to leave the country at this time as they may not be permitted to return to the United States.

Q. What is the DREAM Act?

On July 20, 2017, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) introduced the Dream Act of 2017. It is a bipartisan bill that would provide a direct road to U.S. citizenship for people who are either undocumented, have DACA or temporary protected status (TPS), and who graduate from U.S. high schools and attend college, enter the workforce, or enlist in a military program. Additional information about the DREAM Act can be found here:

Q. Are there resources available to students to help in renewing DACA?

Georgetown has contracted with Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services to offer free legal aid to students interested in renewing DACA. Information is available here: In addition, students should contact the Office of Student Financial Services for support in renewing DACA.

Q. How is the University supporting undocumented students?

Georgetown University is committed to supporting undocumented students and the unique challenges they may face. Georgetown recently appointed our first full-time associate director, Arelis Palacios, for undocumented student services. In addition, Georgetown has a working group of faculty, staff and students who meet regularly to focus on supporting undocumented students.

President DeGioia will continue to support and advocate for federal efforts in support of the DACA initiative and the DREAM Act, federal legislation that would lead to a permanent path to legal permanent residency for undocumented students. Many of President DeGioia’s statements in support of undocumented students can be found here:

Georgetown created a website devoted to providing information about resources and guidance to undocumented students and prospective students:

Q. Does Georgetown admit students and provide funding to students who are undocumented?

Georgetown welcomes and supports students of all backgrounds without regard to their immigration status. We welcome all interested individuals to apply and we do not require students to provide proof of citizenship. Georgetown is proud of its need-blind/meet full need policy regarding all of its undergraduate students. Consistent with that commitment, although Federal aid programs are not available to undocumented students, Georgetown provides institutional aid to all undergraduate students who qualify for need-based aid, without regard to immigration status.

Q. What should faculty and staff do if a federal or state official requests information regarding a current or former student?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the privacy of information contained in student education records. Information from those records may be shared outside of the university only with the written consent of the student or if an exception to FERPA’s consent requirement applies (e.g., directory information, health and safety emergency). Faculty and staff should not, and have no responsibility to, provide information to a federal official requesting immediate information on a phone call or during an in-person visit. In almost all cases, the university will have at least three working days to respond. The University’s Office of General Counsel and Office of the Registrar are available to help guide you through issues regarding student privacy and to respond to requests for information. For more detailed information, please visit:

Q. What information does Georgetown disclose to the Department of Homeland Security immigration authorities about its undocumented students?

Georgetown protects the privacy of student information and records consistent with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Georgetown will not release information regarding undocumented student immigration status to the Department of Homeland Security, unless legally compelled to do so (e.g., a warrant, subpoena or other court order).

Q. Does Georgetown University Police Department (GUPD) arrest students who are undocumented?

Students will not be held or arrested by GUPD on the basis of immigration status alone. GUPD does not have the responsibility to enforce federal laws regarding immigration status and will not ask students about their immigration status.

Q. I am an undocumented student. Who should I reach out to for support?

Undocumented students or those who know of undocumented students seeking support should reach out to Arelis Palacios, advisor to undocumented students, at, phone: (202) 687-8022. Georgetown will not release information about any student who visits the advisor to anyone outside of the University, unless legally compelled to do so. Students concerned about confidentiality may contact the advisor anonymously at the telephone number above or reach out to the Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services:

Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

Q. What is Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is an immigration status that is given to nationals of certain countries temporarily for humanitarian reasons. It is a relief from deportation for these foreign nationals who were physically present in the United States of America during the time that something catastrophic happened in their country of origin preventing their safe return. The conditions making it unsafe for them to return include but are not limited to: an ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, an epidemic. To be eligible, individuals must be physically present in the U.S. on the date on which TPS is designated for their nationality, and must have continuously resided in the U.S. since that date.

Q. What is the current status of TPS protections?

As of January 2018, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) has been terminated for 7 countries: Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador. This unprecedented string of terminations from the Administration leaves thousands of long term residents of the United States vulnerable to detention and deportation. TPS holders are integral members of the United States with deep family and community ties that span decades. Legislation that provides definite pathways to citizenship for TPS holders must be passed and enacted to formalize what TPS holders already are – permanent residents of the United States.   

Q. What is DED and how is it different from TPS?

Deferred Enforcement Departure or DED is a discretionary decision made by the President to protect a class of individuals. Liberians have had DED or Temporary Protected Status (TPS) since 1991 It has been extended for the last decade by Presidents Bush and Obama, many recipients have been here in the U.S. for over 25 years. The current White House however, announced the termination of the current DED for Liberia and is set to expire March 31, 2019.  

Q. Who is in charge of TPS?

Congress created Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in the Immigration Act of 1990.  The Department of Homeland Security upon the advice of the President decides which countries to designate TPS to and whether to extend. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is responsible for the granting of the status to individuals.

Q. How long does TPS last for?

Persons granted TPS are authorized to remain in the U.S. for a specific, limited period, initially no more than 18 months. When this period expires, the DHS secretary may extend it for another specified period of 6 months, 12 months, or 18 months. The law permits DHS to extend a TPS designation for a country in need so long as conditions the that led to TPS being granted exist or there are additional dangerous circumstances in that country; Congress did not impose a time limit in the TPS law.

Q. What demographic does TPS affect?

There are currently 320,000 people being protected by TPS in the U.S. from Sudan, South Sudan, Nicaragua, Honduras, Haiti, El Salvador, Syria, Nepal, Yemen, and Somalia.

Current TPS Countries

All data retrieved from USCIS, ILRC and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Country Cause of Designation TPS Designated Through Years w/ Relief from Deportation Designated By Recipients
*Sudan   War November 2, 2018  20 George H.W. Bush  1,048
*Nicaragua Hurricane Mitch January 5, 2019 18 Bill Clinton 5,306
*Liberia Civil War, Ebola March 31, 2019 27 George H.W.  857-4,000
**South Sudan War May 2, 2019 6 Barack Obama 77
*Nepal Earthquake June 24, 2019 2 Barack Obama 14,791
*Haiti Earthquake July 22, 2019 7 Barack Obama 58,557
*El Salvador Earthquakes September 9, 2019  16 George W. Bush 262,528
**Syria War September 30, 2019 5 Barack Obama 6,916
Honduras Hurricane Mitch January 5, 2020 18 Bill Clinton 86,031
Yemen War March 3, 2020 2 Barack Obama 1,116
Somalia  War, droughts, famine  March 17, 2020  27 George H.W. Bush 499

*DHS advised that TPS for Sudan will be terminated as of November 2, 2018, Haiti as of July 22, 2019, Nicaragua as of January 5, 2019, El Salvador as of September 9, 2019, Nepal as of June 24, 2019 and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberia as of March 31, 2019.

** TPS for South Sudan and Syria was renewed for those who already had the designation; new applicants are not eligible.

Q. What is the procedure to secure TPS?

TPS recipients, similar to other DHS mandated programs, must give biometrics, thorough background checks and are ineligible to hold TPS if they have certain criminal convictions. The application is a costly process, and each individual is processed separately: employment authorization fee is currently $410, while the application and biometrics fees are $85 and $50 respectively.

Q. What are the benefits of TPS?

TPS allows people to work legally in the U.S. thereby contributing to the American economy as well as that of their home country.  Many are a lifeline for their families who still live in dire and unstable circumstances overseas. TPS holders are protected from deportation allowing them to freely contribute richly to society. TPS holders are not eligible to adjust their status, and they are not eligible for federal public benefits.

Q. What is the status of the TPS program?

TPS is at risk of being holistically terminated. The Trump Administration has indicated that it is looking towards ending the use of TPS. There is the fear that TPS holders will be sent back to countries that are unsafe or have poor conditions, putting their lives and livelihoods at risk.

Q. How temporary is TPS?

Though TPS is intended to be temporary, the prolonged conditions in some of the countries have had recipients here for over 20 years. They have built homes, careers and families in the United States.

Q. Are there resources available to students to help in renewing TPS?

Georgetown has contracted with Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services to offer free legal aid to students eligible in renewing their TPS permits. Information is available here: