California Immigrant Higher Education Act (AB 540)

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College app guideline for undocumented students

AB 540 was signed into law in October 2001 and allows eligible immigrant students to pay in-state tuition at public college & universities, such as the University of California (UC system), California State Universities (CSU), and community colleges. Qualifying for AB540 does not change a student’s immigration or residency status or provide access to any federal or state financial aid.


What are the requirements?

If you are currently an undocumented (without an immigration status) student, even if you once held a valid visa, you are eligible for AB540. Other requirements include:

  • Attend a high school in California for three or more years (it can be non-consecutive);
  • Graduate from a California high school, receive a high school equivalency certificate issued by the California State GED office or receive a Certificate of Proficiency; and
  • File the AB540 nonresident tuition exemption request form and sign the confidential affidavit included with the form stating that you will apply for legal residency as soon as possible.

U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents also qualify for AB540.

How to apply for AB 540

For the UC and CSU systems, the AB540 nonresident tuition exemption form is filed after you are accepted. For community colleges, you submit the AB540 request form the same day that you register at the admissions office. You should contact the college/university you will attend about additional instructions on due dates, since it differs among the UC, CSU and community college systems.

The AB540 form (Nonresident Tuition Exemption Application and Affidavit Form) that the UC system uses is slightly different from the generic form accepted by community colleges and CSUs. You can obtain these one page forms from any college admissions office or at KRC’s website at

For all three school systems, check "Yes" for the first two questions. These first two questions are:

  • [YES]I have attended high school in California for three or more years.
  • [YES] I have graduated from a California high school or have attained the equivalent thereof, such as a High School Equivalency Certificate, issued by the California State GED Office of a Certificate of Proficiency, resulting from the California High School Proficiency Examination.

The last question looks different on a UC form and the generic form. On the UC form, check yes to the last question:

  • [YES]I am NOT a non-immigrant alien. [Non-immigrants, as defined by federal law, have been admitted to the United States temporarily and may have been granted one of the following visas: A,B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, TN, TD, V, TROV, and NATO].

On the generic form, check only the second box:

  • [ ] I am a nonimmigrant alien as defined by federal law. Nonimmigrant aliens have been admitted to the United States temporarily and include, but are not limited to, foreign students (persons holding F visas) and exchange visitors (persons holding J visas).


  • [YES]I am NOT a non-immigrant alien (including, but not limited to, a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or an alien without lawful immigration status).

Fill out the rest of the information in the form, and for UCs and CSUs, mail it to the Registrar's Office.

How to complete college applications

College app guideline for undoc. students

1. You are not required to complete every part of your application. In particular, you may leave these fields empty:

  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Immigration Status
  • Visa Type and Date

Not completing these sections does not suggest that you are concealing any information. Rather, it is to prevent possible discrimination against you based on immigration status.

2. Do not write false information:

  • If you do not have a SSN and the school insists that you enter one, write 000-00-0000 or "AB540".
  • Even if you are in the process of applying for permanent residency, do not check "Permanent Resident" if you are not one yet.
  • Do not write that you hold a visa if it expired.

You may also fill out college applications online. Step-by-step instructions for UC online applications are available at

Other options

  • Apply for a private scholarship: check out the list of scholarships provided regardless of immigration status at Scholarships.
  • Apply to a private college: some private schools offer their own financial aid to foreign students, and depending on the school, undocumented students may also qualify. Check with the college.

I need help!

Do you have questions about filling out the application? Did the school deny you or someone you know college admissions because of immigration status? Contact the Korean Resource Center at 323-937-3718

Frequently Asked Questions

Read Undocumented Student Know-How


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