Undocumented, DACAmented, and AB 540 Students

For students who find themselves with an irregular migratory status within the U.S., our office stands in solidarity and in service to you and the undocumented community here at UCSC. In the past, students under the protection of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) were able to realize international travel by means of Advance Parole. Unfortunately, since Advance Parole was suspended in 2017, DACA students can no longer realize international travel and be granted regular re-entry into the U.S. Although this means that you cannot study abroad in another country, there are opportunities to study away within the U.S. However, we strongly recommend that you carry your USCIS documents showing deferred status with you in order to facilitate your ability to return to your residence. Please note that depending on the location of your travels, you may be subject to certain processes, including customs inspections.


Program Type Options

Let’s discuss program options that best fit your needs as a student with an irregular migratory status. While there has been such an emphasis on leaving the country to experience intercultural education, with the U.S. having such diverse populations of peoples and regions, leaving the comforts of our well-settled Californian lifestyle to study in another state could be just as enriching an experience. Have you ever considered how different it might be to study in New York City than to study in the Bay Area, for example? Or how different it might be to study in Albuquerque, New Mexico compared to study in Santa Cruz, for example? There are a couple of different options for students who cannot realize international travel due to having an irregular migratory status. However, before making any travel plans, you should always seek legal council, support from Undocumented Student Services (USS), and come speak to us in our office about programing opportunities and scholarships. 

UC Study Away in the U.S. During the Academic Year 

There are some study away programs in the U.S. that have been designed for all UC students and are offered during the academic year. Any UC student under any major can intern in Washington D.C. under the UCDC Program or  in Sacramento under the UC Sacramento Program. All  students can also look into the University of California Ecology and Natural Reserves Program where you can conduct independent research! Another really great option would be to take advantage of the opportunity to study at one of the other UC campuses for one term under the UC Intercampus Visitor Program!

While all UC students can apply for the above-mentioned programs, UCSC has some programs designed specifically for our university campus students that are offered during the academic year. UCSC students can apply to participate in a USA Exchange Program for a semester or a year. An exchange program is where students study away at an institution in which UCSC has a partnership agreement. Meaning, UCSC can send students to study at a partner university for a semester or year and the partner university can send their students to study at UCSC for a semester or year. The exchange is direct and reciprocal, meaning UCSC would receive students from the other university in exchange for UCSC students going to their universities for a term. 

For exchange programs, you pay your regular tuition and fees at UCSC, and pay your living expenses at the partner institution (which is often far less expensive than living expenses in Santa Cruz). Because these programs are offered during the academic year, the financial aid package you receive for attending UCSC will apply to the exchange program. See more about financial aid below!

UC Study Away During the Academic Year Program Options: 

UC Study Away in the U.S. During the Summer 

If you are interested in participating in a summer program, you can consider taking a look at all the UC Summer Away options offered in the U.S. through UC Davis, UCLA, and UC Berkeley. It is important to know that these programs change yearly, so each summer will have different program offerings. That being said, it is best to start taking a look at these summer program options at the beginning of the academic year so that you have plenty of time to plan your academic summer away!

It is also important to know that because these are summer program options, your access to financial aid will be limited to what was left over from the year prior. Consider the costs of the program and plan ahead for out of pocket expenses. Visit Budgeting for Study Abroad to download a fillable budget. Also, be sure to apply for scholarships! See more about financial aid and scholarships below! 

 Other UC Summer Away in the U.S. Program Options 

Non-UC U.S. Study Away Program Options 

Another resource for students looking to study away in the U.S. are third party provider organizations that are not affiliated with the UC, such as IES Abroad, or CIEE, for example. Please know that financial aid packaging does not apply for Non-UC Programs, meaning that all program costs will be paid out of pocket. In the case that you choose to participate in Independent Programs in the U.S., consider the overall cost of the program and be sure to search for scholarships and funding opportunities

  • Spanish Studies Abroad in Puerto Rico - For this program, a State police record is required to ensure students have a clean criminal background and a Real ID will be required beginning October 1, 2020. Click here to explore scholarships. Please note that although Puerto Rico is a US territory, we advise that students consult an immigration attorney prior to the proposed travel, to inquire about risks related to re-entry.
  • IES Abroad Summer Internship - This program does not require specific travel or other documentation. Click here to explore scholarships. Some featured scholarships undocumented students can apply to include the Study Abroad Accessibility Grant for Students with Financial Need ($5,000), the Vera Isaacs Schwartz Endowed Stipend ($500), the Study Abroad Scholarship for Future Engineers ($5,000), and the Aurelio Javellana Montinola Jr. Family Scholarship Fund ($5,000)
  • CISAbroad in Hawaii - Click here to explore scholarships.
  • CIEE Summer Global Internships in Boston, San Francisco, and New York. For this program a work permit is required. Additional requirements for employers may vary (e.g. background checks, etc.). If an employer wants to offer payment, then a SSN may be required, however, as a general rule of thumb, most students should anticipate an unpaid experience. Click here to explore scholarships. Undocumented students qualify for many merit-based scholarships and the Minority Serving Institution (MSI) Grant. 
  • ISA Internships in Denver- ISA offers domestic internships in Denver, Colorado, in the following areas: in Business and Marketing, Communications, Media and PR, Environmental and Sustainability Studies, Health, Hospitality, Events and Tourism, Legal Studies and Advocacy, Political Science, Psychology and Social Work, Sciences and Math. There are no eligibility requirements for ISA scholarships that require students to be a U.S. citizen. However, all applicants must be enrolled at a college or university at the time of ISA program participation. As long as undocumented students meet all the eligibility requirements for a scholarship, they are welcome to apply. Review ISA scholarship opportunities here

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Financial Aid, Scholarships, and Budgeting 

Financial Aid 

If you are choosing a UCSC Domestic Exchange, UCEAP, or Other UC Study Abroad program, you are generally eligible for the same amount of financial aid you would receive during an academic term at UCSC including your Cal Grant, UC Grant, DREAM loan, and any other aid you receive. Most departmental and private scholarships are also transferable! Going during the academic year is the best option for most students as summer funding is very limited. Financial aid funding is not available for non-UC programs.

Apply for financial aid early to give yourself extra time in case you are selected for verification. You can request an estimate on a projected financial aid package for your study abroad program by contacting a Financial Aid Advisor via email or going to drop in hours where you can speak to them in person about your financial aid package and situation. Getting this estimate done can offer you insight about how much money you can expect to pay out of pocket to meet program costs and can allow you to plan accordingly. 


You should prepare for your out of pocket expenses by creating a budget for the program you are applying to. You can download a fillable budget for different program types on our Budgeting for Study Abroad webpage. This a good way to help you understand your financial aid situation and plan ahead for out of pocket expenses. If you need assistance in creating this budget sheet, you are more than welcome to come to a Affording Study Abroad Workshop. Please check our calendar for times and dates!


You should apply to any and all scholarships that you are eligible for! Be sure that scholarships you apply for allow applicants who are undocumented, DACAmented, or have irregular migratory status. 

Here are some examples of scholarships you can consider: 

You can always inquire with our office about other scholarship opportunities!

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A Note About The Real ID, Sharing Status, and Differing Political Climates in Other States

The Real ID and Sharing About Having an Irregular Migratory Status

Residents of California must have the California Real ID by October 1, 2020 in order to travel on aircraft domestically, meaning within the U.S. Only authorized immigrants or those who maintain lawful status may apply for REAL ID compliant licenses, including DACA-mented students and students with TPS. REAL IDs have anti-counterfeit technology in the card. 

If a traveler is out of regular migratory status after October 2020, the traveler should obtain alternative acceptable identification documents, which could include a valid passport issued by the government of which they are a citizen.

Generally speaking, traveling with a passport with no valid U.S. visa stamp on it does not imply unlawful status. However, given the current political climate, the restrictive immigration policies, and the heightened immigration enforcement rules, it may be a trigger for further inquiry by the TSA or other federal agents.

Under the REAL ID regulation, applicants with approved deferred action who hold valid Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) and Social Security Numbers (SSNs) may qualify to receive temporary REAL ID driver's licenses and ID cards and may continue to hold temporary (limited-term) REAL IDs until their expiration.


Please know that under no circumstances do you have to share information about your migratory status with anyone at anytime, including with faculty, staff, or peers. You have the right to protect yourself by not disclosing your status and by only sharing it with trusted sources.  

Immigration-Sentiment Climate Varies by State

While California considers itself a Sanctuary State and offers immigrants some legal protections, when it comes to choosing a program that is in a region outside of California, it is important to consider the climate of immigrant sentiment there.  Using this search engine, you can find the specific laws and regulations concerning immigrants in different states.  Taking a look at the Immigrant Climate Index could also be a helpful marker to understanding what might be the overall feeling towards immigrants in this particular state or region. 

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UC Davis Undocumented Legal Services Center

Provides on-site immigration legal aid, and can help but is not limited to:

  • DACA Applications and Renewals
  • Advance Parole
  • Petitions for family
  • U-Visas
  • Know Your Rights Workshops 

For services from the UC Undocumented Student Legal Services, please contact:   

           Ian Dougherty
           Legal Fellow
           (530) 574-9414

***While UCSC Study Abroad is not able to provide any legal advice or advice for U.S. travel WE CAN (and will) connect you with the appropriate legal services to assist with the study away process 

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Study Away Snapshot for Students Who Are Undocumented, DACAmented, or Have an Irregular Migratory Status 

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Student Experiences and Perspectives:

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