One of the great things we have seen as a result of DACA is that people are getting back to school, taking classes to get their GED, and registering for GED exams. The DACA program has been generously interpreted to include a wide variety of programs as “in school” for purposes of qualifying for DACA. In this post, we explore the ways that taking the GED and preparing for the GED can qualify an individual for DACA.
The GED is a group of tests that, taken together, certify that the successful taker has satisfied requirements equivalent to a high school degree. Passage of the GED exams is the equivalent of a high school diploma.
The Citizenship & Immigration Service (“CIS”) will consider you qualified for DACA if you meet all the other requirements and have passed the GED. The CIS will accept documentation showing that you have passed the exam and that you have received the equivalent of a high school diploma. Many states will issue some form of certificate or other credential to show that you have passed the GED and obtained the equivalent of a high school diploma.
A person enrolled in a course or program to prepare for the GED may also qualify for DACA. Here is how CIS stated it:
An education program assisting students either in obtaining a regular high school diploma or its recognized equivalent under state law (including a certificate of completion, certificate of attendance, or alternate award), or in passing a General Educational Development (GED) exam or other equivalent state-authorized exam.
Such education, literacy, or career training programs include, but are not limited to, programs funded, in whole or in part, by federal or state grants. Programs funded by other sources may qualify if they are administered by providers of demonstrated effectiveness, such as institutions of higher education, including community colleges, and certain community-based organizations.
In assessing whether such an education, literacy or career training program not funded in whole or in part by federal or state grants is of demonstrated effectiveness, USCIS will consider the duration of the program’s existence; the program’s track record in assisting students in obtaining a regular high school diploma or its recognized equivalent, in passing a GED or other state-authorized exam, or in placing students in postsecondary education, job training, or employment; and other indicators of the program’s overall quality. For individuals seeking to demonstrate that they are “currently in school” through enrollment in such a program, the burden is on the requestor to show the program’s demonstrated effectiveness.
Thus, CIS has stated that they will accept DACA applications for people who are in certain types of GED programs. Now, not all GED preparation courses are created equal. CIS has stated that, for a GED program to satisfy the “in school” requirement, it must be funded by the federal government or the state. If it is not funded by the state, if “they are administered by providers of demonstrated effectiveness, such as institutions of higher education, including community colleges and certain community-based organizations.” The CIS appears to be trying to take a broad view while not sanctioning commercial programs that do not have a track record of success. Individuals deciding which preparation course to take should carefully consider the credentials of their options. Courses and programs that have been around for a long time and can show statistics of their student’s success in taking the GED are preferable to programs that can not provide this information. Individuals seeking a GED program for DACA purposes should favor those government funded programs.
Another options for those in GED programs is to wait until you have passed the GED to apply for DACA. Although you may be in a rush to apply for DACA, if there is a doubt whether your program will qualify, it may be better to wait until you have passed the GED.