Terms You Should Know

KU Latinx Studies Initiative has complied a list of terms that you and allies should know in reference to undocumented immigrant students at KU. This list is not comprehensive and is updated frequently. If you have questions about these terms, please contact us.


Undocumented Student: “Undocumented” refers to students who are not U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents of the United States, who do not hold a visa to reside in the U.S., and who have not applied for legal residency in the U.S. In many, but not all, cases the term non-citizen refers to undocumented students. Undocumented students are eligible to apply for and be admitted to University of Kansas. Undocumented students are not eligible for federal financial aid, however those residing in the state of Kansas are eligible for in-state tuition. Find out more here.

Unauthorized: This term has been used as a synonym for undocumented, however this term is used to highlight the fact that all peoples have documents (i.e. birth certificate, a form of identification card, and so forth), but that they are residing in the U.S. without legal authorization, thus unauthorized.

Legal Citizenship: Is obtained by individuals who are residing in the U.S. legally due to the attainment of permanent residency or citizenship through a visa or green card. These individuals obtain a social security number (SSN). 

Cultural Citizenship: Undocumented people who participate in and are acknowledged for their cultural resiliency and social reproduction that they participate in. Undocumented people take part in the class, cultural, and linguistic knowledge and skills that establish the cultural capital of social groups in the U.S.

Non-Citizen: The non-citizen category applies to students who are not U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents of the United States and who do not hold a valid visa or who are not seeking a visa for study or documentation for residency in the U.S. 

Overstayed Visa: Refers to individuals who have stayed in the U.S. after their tourist, visitor, or student visa has expired and thus they become undocumented by overstaying their visa. 

Residency Status: Refers to in-state or out-of-state residency for purposes of tuition assessment.  Normally, residents of the state of Illinois are assessed in-state tuition, and all other students are assessed out-of-state tuition. For KU, however, tuition is the same for residents and non-U.S. citizens/non-residents.

DREAM Act: The Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act is a piece of  legislation proposed to provide a pathway to permanent residency and U.S. citizenship for qualified undocumented immigrant students.  The DREAM Act has been proposed several times in Congress but has not been approved.  

DREAMers: DREAMers refers to students who are undocumented and are also part of the DREAM Act movement. DREAMer is a term commonly used by students who connect with the DREAM Act movement, and sometimes used as a way to navigate away from the negative connotations given to terms such as undocumented, immigrant, non-U.S. citizen, and so forth.  

Entry without Inspection: Refers to individuals who have entered the U.S. without presenting normative government accreditation (i.e. visa).  

Mixed Status Family: Mixed Status family refers to students that either are, 1) undocumented, but have family members that are U.S. residents or U.S. citizens and/or 2) are U.S. residents or a U.S. citizen, but have family members that are undocumented. In this case it is important to know because it may affect the way a student fills out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Please note, non-U.S. citizens/non-residents are not eligible for federal financial aid. 

Illegal: "Illegals" is a racially charged slur used to dehumanize and discriminate against immigrants and people of color regardless of migratory status. The term “illegal” is shorthand for "illegal alien," "illegal immigrant" and other harmful terms. The KU Latinx Studies Initiative strongly discourages the use of the term.


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