UndocuGrad Tip: Disclosing my immigration status on graduate school applications


imgresWhen it comes to applying to graduate school, many of us often wonder- Should I disclose my immigration status or not?  Especially when it is time to write a personal statement where you typically have more space to include autobiographical information as it relates to your academic trajectory.

While I hesitate to tell anyone with certainty that they should (or not) disclose their status because so much of it depends on your own personal circumstances and comfort, here are two important things to keep in mind as you decide whether or not to disclose your immigration status on your graduate school application(s):

  • Does your immigration status relate to the research that you want to do in grad school and/or the experiences that have led you to pursue a graduate degree?

Professor Marisol Clark-Ibañez, a wonderful mentor and scholar on immigration at California State University of San Marcos, recommends that if there is a place to describe your personal journey in your personal statement, you can include your immigration status IF your research or professional motivation might also be tied to your immigration status. Personally, I did include my immigration status in both of my MA and PhD applications, mostly because it relates so much to what I want to do in grad school and why I am pursuing a PhD. In my research and teaching, I largely focus on issues of immigration and education.

  • It can let others know how they can best support you

Before DACA, I often needed my mentors to know that I couldn’t legally work, but that I was more than happy to help in research projects (for example). Thus, revealing my status allowed us to come up with different opportunities that were mutually beneficial. And although I couldn’t be legally employed and paid for my time, I still gained the skills and experience that would strengthen my graduate school applications and journey down the road. Once I was applying to graduate school, I disclosed my status because (again) it closely relates to my graduate school, research and teaching interests. And it was also a way for me to let the program know of what I could (or not) do. Though the latter often involved several conversations of course to figure out how the program could best support me.

With this said, remember that disclosing your status, depends on your comfort level. You can decide when, to who, and how to disclose your status with each new occasion that arises. You may also have a mentor of yours inquire about immigration issues or attitudes on behalf of you.

If you are undocumented and applying to graduate school, feel free to send in your questions/concerns about the experience and process of applying to/attending grad school. You can submit your questions by commenting on this post or using the contact form. Each week, I will be providing an “UndocuGrad Tip” to help you during the grad school application process!

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Categories: Applying to grad school

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