Internships and Fellowships for DACA and Undocumented Students

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By Megan Whitenton

Reviewed by Susana Muñoz, Ph.D

Published on August 31, 2021

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Internships | Fellowships | Career Preparation | Frequently Asked Questions


DACA recipients represent a relatively small but important group within the U.S. workforce. Research conducted by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) indicates that 55% of DACA recipients are employed, while 62% of unemployed DACA recipients are enrolled in an education program. Many organizations support undocumented and DACA college students by providing internships and fellowships.

These opportunities can provide critical professional training and career skills to DACA and undocumented students. An MPI report lists professional and health and social services among the most common employment industries for DACA graduates.

The following guide explores resources for funding, mentorship, and experiential learning that DACA and undocumented students can take advantage of to enhance their college experience and launch their career.

Internships for DACA or Undocumented Students
Internship Description Dates Due Compensation
Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute Global Leaders Program CHLI enables interns to pursue hands-on experience in public policy. Applicants must be enrolled in a four-year college as a sophomore, junior, or senior. DACA students must prove their eligibility to work in the United States. Start dates vary; lasts for 15 weeks (one semester) Varies Monthly stipend (amount varies), Congressional experience, and professional development
American Civil Liberties Union Internships The ACLU offers more than 30 internships for graduate and undergraduate students committed to civil rights and social justice. Start dates vary; lasts for 10 weeks Varies Stipend (amount varies), exposure, experience, and mentorship
American Economic Association Summer Training Program The AEA's summer internship program — held most recently at Howard University — provides intensive training in microeconomics, econometrics, and math for aspiring graduate students. May to July; lasts for two months Varies A stipend of $3,250 upon completion, tuition and fees, living expenses, transportation, books, and program excursion costs
American Federation of Teachers Internships The AEA's summer internship program — held most recently at Howard University — provides intensive training in microeconomics, econometrics, and math for aspiring graduate students. May to July; lasts for two months Varies A stipend of $3,250 upon completion, tuition and fees, living expenses, transportation, books, and program excursion costs
American Federation of Teachers Internships The AFT offers more than a dozen internships across departments like higher education, human rights and community relations, and international affairs. The AFT supports numerous advocacy initiatives for DACA students. Varies Varies Varies
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute R2L@NextGen CHCI offers a free virtual leadership experience for Latino/a high school students, emphasizing civic engagement and collaborative networking opportunities. June to July; lasts for one month Feb. Access to guest speakers (including CHCI alumni and Latino/a community leaders) and exclusive professional networking opportunities
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Congressional Internship Program CHCI enables interns to work alongside public policy professionals to discuss and develop key initiatives affecting Latino/as. Applicants must be enrolled in a full-time undergraduate program. Spring session: January to April (12 weeks); summer session: May to August (10 weeks); fall session: August to November (12 weeks) Varies $3,750 (fall and spring) and $3,125 (summer); round-trip travel expenses to the fellowship site in Washington, D.C.; housing; and academic credit
INROADS Internship Program A nonprofit dedicated to creating pathways into the workforce for ethnically diverse students, INROADS offers multiple internships for undergraduates majoring in select subjects at regionally accredited universities. Applicants must be enrolled full time with at least one summer or 27 credits remaining before graduation and a minimum 2.8 GPA. Varies Varies Stipend or salary (amount varies); each placement offers individual benefits
Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities National Internship Program HACU offers national and corporate internship programs for students enrolled in a degree-seeking program at an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. DACA-eligible applicants may qualify if they can prove their eligibility to work in the United States. National internships: spring, summer, or fall; corporate internships: summer only Rolling Round-trip airfare to and from internship location, housing, mentorship, and professional development experience
LatinoJustice's Corporate/Law Firm Alliance Summer Program LatinoJustice's CLASP program offers paid internships at premier New York law firms for first-year law students with a minimum 3.0 GPA enrolled in one of 13 approved East Coast-based universities. Start dates vary; takes place over two consecutive summers Jan. Stipend or salary (amount varies), hands-on experience at a world-renowned law firm
Immigrants Rising Pre-Law Bootcamp Immigrants Rising offers this mini-internship for foreign-born, non-U.S. citizens who are considering applying to law school. Three days Varies Guidance for completing law school applications as an undocumented citizen and networking opportunities with other undocumented pre-law candidates
Fellowships for DACA or Undocumented Students
Fellowship Description Dates Due Compensation
Dream Summer Fellowship The UCLA Labor Center offers this summer fellowship to students and DACA-eligible citizens who are at least 18 years old and interested in social justice and immigration rights. June to August Feb. $5,000
Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans This program is for graduate students up to 30 years old with an interest in human rights and the rule of law as related to the U.S. Constitution. DACA students and non-U.S. citizens are eligible. Two years Oct. Up to $25,000 per academic year for a maximum of two years
American Sociological Association Minority Fellowship Program ASA offers this fellowship to minority students who are U.S. citizens, non-citizens, or DACA-eligible individuals. Applicants must be enrolled in an advanced graduate program in pursuit of a Ph.D. in sociology. August to July (one year), renewable Jan. Stipend of $18,000, including cohort programming and travel expenses for scientific conferences
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Graduate Fellowship Program CHCI offers an immersive program for experienced Hispanic public policy professionals. Students must have completed a master's degree or JD within two years of the program start date. August to May; lasts for nine months Jan. $27,900; round-trip travel expenses to the fellowship site in Washington, D.C.; a monthly local transportation stipend; and medical, dental, and vision insurance for the duration
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Public Policy Fellowship Program CHCI offers networking and mentorship opportunities to emerging public policy professionals. Students must have earned a bachelor's degree within three years of the program start date. August to May; lasts for nine months Jan. $26,100; round-trip travel expenses to the fellowship site in Washington, D.C.; a monthly local transportation stipend; and medical, dental, and vision insurance for the duration
First-Generation Civil Rights Fellowship Program The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law offers this fellowship program to first-generation college students who are also the first in their family to pursue a social justice career. Start dates vary; lasts for one summer Varies Stipend (amount varies), mentorship from lawyers specializing in immigration law, professional development seminars, and weekly advocacy training
Public Policy and International Affairs Junior Summer Institute PPIA offers an intensive research experience in public policy for rising seniors in an undergraduate program. Participants must be committed to pursuing a graduate degree at a PPIA-approved school and a subsequent career in public policy. Start dates vary; lasts for seven weeks Nov. Full Junior Summer Institute tuition, housing and most meals, eligibility for an additional stipend, application fee waivers to PPIA-approved graduate schools, and a one-time scholarship of $5,000 (if admitted to a PPIA-approved graduate program)
Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Cornell University offers this fellowship through the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to students with a minimum 3.0 GPA in an eligible major who are ultimately planning to pursue a Ph.D. Fellows are paired with mentors for a guided intensive research project. Varies Feb. Stipends for research throughout the academic year, additional funding for travel and expenses, and an invitation to give a presentation at the annual conference

Career Preparation for DACA and Undocumented Students

The best fellowships and internships for DACA and undocumented students emphasize career preparation. While many programs offer financial support through a stipend, unpaid fellowships and internships can still help students build interviewing and networking skills. Many programs also walk participants through the process of applying for graduate programs or employment opportunities as DACA and undocumented students.

To learn more about gaining work experience, check out our guides providing career tips from DACA graduates and describing employers that support Dreamers.

Frequently Asked Questions About Internships and Fellowships for DACA and Undocumented Students

true Can undocumented students do unpaid internships?

Yes. Many organizations and companies offer internships for undocumented students. However, students are typically required to prove their eligibility to work in the United States. Students should confirm that an internship or fellowship accepts undocumented or DACA-eligible applicants.

true What documents are required for undocumented students applying for work?

Undocumented or DACA-eligible students applying to an internship or fellowship must hold a current, valid employment authorization card or work permit. Employers may require DACA-eligible individuals to complete an I-9 form to verify their identity and work authorization.

true Can undocumented students pursue full-time employment opportunities after completing an internship?

Yes. Undocumented students can present their employment authorization card and DACA-eligible indiviuals can present their I-9 form (if necessary) to employers to qualify for full-time work. Employer authorization cards are typically granted for 1-2 years and may be renewed after the initial eligibility period.


Editor's Note: This article contains general information and is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Please consult a professional advisor before making decisions about legal issues.

Reviewed by:

Dr. Susana M. Muñoz is Associate Professor of higher education, Program Coordinator of the Higher Education Leadership (HEL) Program, and Co-Director of CSU initiatives for the Race and Intersectional Studies for Educational Equity (RISE) Center in the School of Education at Colorado State University (CSU).

Her scholarly interests center on the experiences of minoritized populations in higher education. Specifically, Dr. Muñoz focuses her research on issues of equity, identity, and campus climate for undocumented Latinx students, while employing perspectives such as legal violence, racist nativism, and Chicana feminist epistemology to identify and dismantle power, oppression, and inequities as experienced by these populations. She utilizes multiple research methods as mechanisms to examine these matters with the ultimate goal of informing immigration policy and higher education practices.

Dr. Muñoz has been honored by the White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for Hispanics for her teaching and research. She was also recognized as a Salzburg Global Fellow and named one of the "top 25 most influential women in higher education" by Diverse Issues in Higher Education magazine. She also brings 13 years of student affairs experience in multicultural affairs, Greek life, diversity and leadership training, TRiO programs, and residence life.

Susana Muñoz is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance review network.

Discover what kind of financial aid is available to undocumented students. Learn about your rights before applying. Check out our list of scholarships for undocumented students. Find out how citizenship and legal status may affect access to financial aid. Explore this comprehensive guide that provides awareness, education, and resources for undocumented and DACA college students.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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