Facts About Immigration in US


Due to the lack of studies on populations without US citizenship and their low reporting rates compared to the general population, there is limited knowledge on the rates and prevalence of violence against these communities.

  • 12.5% of the United States population are immigrants, both documented and undocumented.
  • In 2011, the total immigrant population in the US was up to 40.4 million.53% are from Latin America, 28% from Asia, 13% European, 4% African, and about 3% come from other regions including North America.
  • Undocumented immigrants account for more than  a quarter of the immigrant population, almost 11.1 million in the US.
  • There are between 200,000 and 225,000 undocumented students enrolled in college.
  • One study showed that undocumented college students have higher rates of anxiety than the general population.
  • In the 2014-2015 academic school year, international students attending US colleges and universities increased by 10% to nearly 1 million (974,926 students).
  • India, China, and Brazil account for most of the growth of international students in the US.
  • More than 1 out of every 5 noncitizens facing deportation in immigration court on criminal grounds is Black.
  • Black immigrants are more likely to be detained for criminal convictions than the overall immigrant community.
  • Although Black immigrants compromise about 7% of the noncitizen population, they made up 10% of all immigrants in removal proceeding from 2003 to 2015 and ultimately 35% of them were ordered to be deported in 2015.
  • Different portrayals of migrants negatively impact Black immigrants. When there are certain narratives about increasing focus on immigrants with criminal records— even those with minor infractions such as jay walking and traffic violations— Black undocumented communities are disproportionately targeted, arrested, detained, sometimes for years, and deported due to the racist criminalization of the Black community.
  • Within the immigrant population, individuals are 3.5 times more likely to be detained for an immigration violation than a criminal conviction, the reverse is true for Caribbean immigrants in particular, who are almost twice as likely to be detained for a criminal conviction than an immigration violation.

Undocumented Students

An undocumented student is anyone attending an American school in the US without legal documentation to be in the United States. Though these students may not have legal documentation, they are still afforded the same right as any American citizen to equal education. Undocumented children are guaranteed a public education in the US from kindergarten through 12th grade — and although attending college is less certain with significantly more challenges, many undocumented immigrants find a way to continue on into higher education.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is an immigration policy that allows certain undocumented immigrants who entered the country before their 16th birthday and previous to June 2007 to receive a renewable two year work permits and certain status that exempts them from deportation. For many undocumented students, DACA is a beginning stepping stone for them to work, qualify for scholarships and study abroad programs, and be exempt from deportation. For survivors this could mean feeling comfortable enough to report and seek services after an instance of sexual violence or discrimination. However, the Department of Justice has recently signaled recission of the DACA program. This announcement coupled with the repeal and replace of Title IX’s 2011 Dear Colleague Letter and 2014 Questions and Answers guidance, there is uncertainty about how different institutions will choose to assist and support vulnerable students.

Temporary Protective Status (TPS)

Temporary Protection Status is a temporary immigration status granted to eligible nationals of certain countries, or parts of countries who are already in the US. There have been recent signals to also revoke TPS which affect some of the most vulnerable refugees primarily from Somalia, Haiti, and South Sudan. Tinged with aspects of anti blackness, xenophobia, and Islamophobia, if the government moves forward to repeal TPS then removal procedures would disproportionately impact Black Muslim refugees.

The signals to rollback on protections for undocumented immigrants would deeply harm the community. These rollbacks on protection ultimately affect a person’s ability to attend school (which all students have a right to in k-12 schools) and create substantial obstacles for undocumented students in higher education. The fear of removal or beginning removal proceedings —which is well known to be marked by violence, sexual assault, and unconstitutional detainment — for undocumented immigrants. this will lead to unreported crimes against the community which is already disproportionately subjected to sexual violence. Additionally, these changes will jeopardize students’ civil rights, but also their human rights as well, as threats of deportation and detention commonly leads to targeted violence by ICE and other US citizens.

International Students

An international student is anyone who is not a US citizen attending an American school in the United States. These students are covered under Title IX, though have other strict guidelines they must follow if assaulted on campus. It is important for international students to understand their rights and other information that affects their visas and eligibility to be in the US after an assault.

The US has very strict security measures and a monitoring system which affects all international visitors, including international students. Under ICE, the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), an information system to track and monitor international students, and the Principal Designated School Officials (PDSO), who acts as the international student advisor that monitors all foreign student enrollment and activities, were created. All higher educational institutions must participate in the SEVIS program and have a PDSO where there are mandatory reporting requirements for each student at every school. These regulations have a large impact on international students who experience sexual assault.

For international students who are survivors, it is important to understand the significance of this monitoring system in relation to student status and visa eligibility. If you are assaulted, you are still covered under Title IX, however your options are more restricted compared to other students.

For survivors, and other international students, a PDSO is going to be one of your resources while on campus. If you are assaulted,  a PDSO should have the proper paperwork to fill out in order to drop classes, transition as a part time student, change housing, and any other accommodations a survivor may need. Survivors, and all international students, must immediately notify their institution’s PDSO of any changes in academic schedule, change of name or address, etc. If a PDSO is not informed of any changes, then an international student could be dropped from their classes and removed from the US. It’s especially important for international students to understand the impact campus sexual violence might have on their visa requirements as well. The following is information on the PDSO responsibilities and visa requirements of F1, M1, and J1 holders.

There are several avenues for foreign students to temporarily study in the United States, however the most common visa options are the F Visa for academic study, M Visa for vocational study, or J Visa for cultural exchange. When international students experience sexual violence on campus there may be some concerns with their visa requirements and eligibility. Your visa status cannot be used against you to deter you from reporting a sexual assault, though this does not mean that institutions don’t intimidate students in this manner. Each visa has its own requirements, the following are guidelines for students holding the F, M, or J Visas:

F Visas

The F Visa is for academic studies. An F1 visa is issued to students attending an authorized school in an educational program. F1 visas are the most common form of international student visa in the US. Some requirements are:

  • Full time student status; full time student status entails enrolled in at least 12 academic credit hours per term
  • Maintain good academic standing
  • F1 visa holders are prohibited from working off campus, however there may be some on campus employment opportunities for students who qualify
  • Leave the US within 60 days of the completion of the educational program (Students who require an extension of stay must apply).

Some schools that F1 students can attend are:

  • Colleges and universities, or an accredited institution awards professional degrees such as bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, etc.
  • Community or junior colleges that provide instruction in liberal arts or professions and awards associate degrees
  • Academic high schools or elementary schools, seminaries, conservatories, or institutions that provide instruction in language training, liberal arts, fine arts, or professions

M Visa

The M Visa is for non academic, vocational studies. M1 visa is issued to foreign students who are participants in technical and vocational programs. Some requirements for the M Visa are:

  • Enrollment in a program as a full time student; full time student status is at least 12 semester hours
  • M1 visa holders are prohibited from working in the US, including on campus employment

Schools that M1 students can attend are:

  • Community or junior colleges that provide vocational or technical training and that award associate degrees
  • Vocational high schools
  • Other schools that provide vocational or non academic training other than language training

J Visa

The J Visa is intended for practical training and cultural exchange that is not available in a person’s home country. Some foreign students given J Visas include Fulbright scholars, professors, teachers, trainees, specialists, medical graduate, au pairs, and participants in travel/work programs. Each program under the J1 visa has specific requirements, for more information on regulations of the different programs click here. The following are the requirements based off college and university student programs:

  • This program allows for foreign students to study full time at American colleges and universities
  • Full time course of study includes at least 12 academic credit hours per term
  • Maintain good academic standing
  • J1 visa holders may work and participate in student internships that fulfills educational objectives
  • Return to their home country for two years before they can return to the US (Students who require an extension of stay must apply).

For more information on the types and requirements for international students please visit the International Student website.