Board of Regents Permanently Adopts Regulations to Allow DACA Recipients to Apply for Teacher Certification and Professional Licenses


The Board of Regents today permanently adopted regulations to allow certain individuals who came to the United States as children to apply for teacher certification and professional licenses from the State Education Department. The Board approved the proposed regulations in February 2016; today’s action makes the regulations permanent.

In June 2012, the Obama Administration implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, which allows individuals who came to the U.S. as children and meet established guidelines to request consideration of deferred immigration action for a period of two years, subject to renewal. DACA applies to young people who typically derive their immigration status from their parents, many of whom are undocumented.  As a result, most of these individuals have no current mechanism to obtain legal residency, even if they have lived most of their lives in the U.S.

“Today thousands of young people across the state have gained new opportunities,” Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said. “Their futures are no longer restricted in New York. The Board and I are proud to support these individuals who can now obtain their professional license or teacher certification. The Board will continue working to eliminate barriers that prevent New Yorkers from pursuing their dreams.”

“These are young people who came to the U.S. as children,” State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said. “They are American in every way but immigration status. They’ve done everything right. They’ve worked hard in school, some have even served in the military. Now these young people are eligible to get professional licenses and teacher certification in New York State, opening a new world of economic opportunity for them.”

“I applaud the Board of Regents for taking this significant step toward fairness and equal justice for all Americans who came to the United States as children,” said Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. “By opening up the doors to economic advancement to these young people, we’re once again showing that our nation—and our state—remains a land of opportunity for all. This is another critical step toward addressing our broken immigration system and providing economic mobility to tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants across New York.”

“Hundreds of thousands of immigrant children work hard to succeed in our public education system,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said. “But once they graduate, they encounter a number of obstacles as they pursue their goals of higher education and a meaningful career. It is our responsibility to empower and support all of New York’s students. The Assembly Majority has long supported the DREAM Act, which would increase access to higher education. And the final adoption of these regulations is another way we can support immigrant students, allowing all of our young people to obtain professional licenses, opening them up to new economic opportunities.”

“The action taken by the New York State Board of Regents addresses an enormous injustice in our educational system,” said Assemblymember Deborah Glick, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Higher Education. “Students who have worked tirelessly to earn the necessary degrees to become doctors, teachers, lawyers, pharmacists and countless other professions do not deserve to have their dreams stifled when they apply for licensure.”

“This initiative, without question, moves our state in the right direction to bring talented and skilled new Americans into our workforce, and accept and legitimize their efforts to contribute to building the Empire State,” Assemblymember N. Nick Perry said. “On behalf of all these individuals who can now reap the benefits of their hard work and pursue successful careers, I commend the Board of Regents for ensuring that education in New York remains an open and accessible gateway to the middle class for all of our families.”

“I am very proud of the Board of Regents for taking steps to ensure that every New Yorker can be rewarded for their hard work and will be able to make meaningful contributions to our great state,” said Assemblymember Marcos Crespo, Chair of the Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force. “Immigration status should not prohibit an individual from realizing their dreams and improving their lives.”

“I commend the Board of Regents for taking this bold and progressive step forward to help put all of our new Americans on the path to future success,” Assemblymember Ron Kim, Chair of the Task Force on New Americans.

DACA recipients are authorized to work.  However, qualified individuals are prohibited from obtaining teaching certification and licenses in certain professions, including but not limited to pharmacy, dentistry and engineering, solely because of their immigration status. The Department issues licenses for 53 professions.

The regulations allow eligible DACA recipients to obtain a teaching certification or professional license, if they have met all other requirements for licensure except for their citizenship status.

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