The Public School system must accept students regardless of their immigration status. Thus, every year schools are filled with students who are U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, or hold dependent status such as L-2, F-2, H-4, O-2, M-2, J-2, etc., and also the so called “undocumented immigrants” who have no immigration status at all.
However, in the last few years, we have encountered an increasing influx of families arriving in the U.S. as tourists holding B-1/B-2 visas, and registering their children in Public and Charter schools. Often, unbeknownst to them, they are not only jeopardizing the status of their children, but also violating their own tourist visas and sometimes committing fraud in the eyes of the immigration enforcement agencies.
Time and again, we seat through consultations with intending immigrants who have already registered their kids in a charter school or a district public school while they are in tourist visas or while their change of status applications are pending. Their stories are very similar, and go somewhat like this: “But the Public School didn’t ask for our immigration status!!” or “The government entity just asked for an address in the U.S. and, we registered our children for that Charter school lottery” or “We told the school’s principal we were tourist, but she said we could still register our children.”
To all these parents, we sadly explain during a consultation, too often too late to avoid consequences, that the school system and the immigration system are two different entities. Although the public school system will not turn away any family based on their immigration status, a family who entered the country for leisure, will be deemed as violating their tourist status, and may be even charged with fraud in their intent when first entering the United States, if registering their kids in school.
Parents shall understand that the Schools System must accept a child of age with the right requirements to attend that school, regardless of their immigration status. Thus, it is crucial that our Schools start, at a minimum, informing families of the possible immigration consequences of registering their child while in a tourist status or pending change of status. This will allow families to make an informed decision as to whether registering their child in school.
The consequences of attending school while in a tourist status may range from denying a future change of status of the parents and family, to charging them with immigration fraud. If the latest, it will close the doors for any future immigration benefit, and the family will most likely be placed in immigration proceedings.
With little effort, Public schools could include one more form to their registration package informing families of the potential ramifications of registering to school while holding a tourist status. This, in turn, will not only help immigrant families make the informed decision as to whether register their kids to school, but also allow schools to devote their limited spaces and resources to our taxpayers.
If you have question about your immigration status or wish to consult with our firm, please contact us at 954-843-3494