DREAM ACT and ACHIEVE ACT Comparison

The Assisting Children and Helping them Improve their Educational Value for Employment (ACHIEVE) Act (S. 3639) was introduced by Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), John Kyl (R-AZ), and John McCain (R-AZ) on November 27, 2012. The ACHIEVE Act is the Republican alternative to the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which has been introduced in various forms since 2001, often with bipartisan support, and was passed out of the House of  Representatives only to be blocked in the Senate by filibuster in 2010. T

DREAM Act:

Under the DREAM Act, the requirements are as follows:

  • Individuals must have entered the U.S. before age 16 and be under age 36 (or age 33 for the House version) on the date of enactment
  • Individuals must have had a continues presences for 5 years prior to the date of Enactment
  • The duration of conditional and nonimmigrant status is 6 years
  • Individuals must have earned a high school or a GED or be admitted to a post-secondary education institution
  • Individuals must not have been convicted of any federal or state offense punishable by imprisonment of more than one year, or convicted of 3 or more offenses on different dates with total imprisonment of more than 90 days
  • Repeals the law that penalizes states that offer in-state tuition to undocumented students and allows states to choose policy
  • Qualified students are eligible for federal work study, student loans, and other forms of state financial aid
  • No explicit restrictions on travel
  • There are no fees
  • The Process is:
    •  Step 1: Eligible applicants can apply for conditional permanent resident status, which will allow them to work legally, continue their education, and be safeguarded from deportation
    • Step 2: After 6 years of conditional permanent resident status, an individual who graduates from a two year vocational college, completes 2 years toward a higher education degree or serves in the military for 2 years would qualify for unrestricted legal permanent resident status, after which the individual would be eligible to apply for citizenship
  • Individuals are not restricted from means tested public benefits such as Medicaid or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and are eligible to purchase health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
  • Applicant must submit application according to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Regulation

ACHIEVE Act:

Under the ACHIEVE Act, the requirements are as follows:

  • Individuals must have entered the U.S. before age 14 and be under age 28 (or age 32 if individual has a degree from a 4-year college in the U.S.) on the date of enactment
  • Individuals must have had a continues presences for 5 years prior to the date of Enactment
  • The duration of conditional and nonimmigrant status is 10-15+ years
  • Individuals must graduate high school or earn a GED, and be admitted to a postsecondary institution or enlisted in the military. To be eligible for the second conditional status, an individual must earn a 4-year college degree
  • Individuals must not have been convicted of a felony or any misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment of more than 30 days (unless the misdemeanor is the result of a traffic violation not involving alcohol or drugs)
  • Does not repeal the law that penalizes states that offer in-state tuition to undocumented students
  • Qualified students are excluded from federal work study, student loans, Pell Grants, and all other forms of federal financial aid
  • Individuals with a W Visa can travel outside of the United States for fewer than 90 days, with certain exceptions
  • The Fees are as follows:
    •  W-1: $525
    • W-2: $750
    • W-3: $2,000 (with $525 renewal)
    • Total: $3,275 (plus possible W-3 renewals)
  • The Process is:
    • Step 1: Eligible applicants can apply for a 6-year W-1 Visa, which would allow them to attend college, serve in the military, and work legally
    • Step 2: Upon completion of the W-1 Visa and contingent on the attainment of a bachelor’s degree, an associate’s degree with 2 and a half years of work, or 4 years of military service, an individual would be eligible to apply for a W-2 Visa, a 4-year conditional nonimmigrant work visa
    • Step 3: After completion of the W-2 Visa and adhering to other requirements of the W-1 Visa, an individual would be able to apply for a 5-year W-3 Visa, with a 4-year renewal option, during which the individual may potentially apply for citizenship through limited existing means, for example marriage to a U.S. citizen
  • Individuals are not eligible for any means tested public benefits and are prohibited from purchasing health coverage through the ACA
  • Burden of proof is on the applicant to provide clear and convincing evidence at time of application, and the applicant must submit an update every 6 months while they have conditional status that includes: their name and current address, and sufficient documentation to show they are still eligible for conditional status