A student must be a citizen or eligible non-citizen to be eligible for federal and state financial aid programs, as determined by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The general requirement for eligible non-citizens is that they be in the U.S. for other than a temporary purpose with the intention of being a citizen or lawful permanent resident. The specific eligible statuses are:
- U.S. citizen or national;
- U.S. permanent resident;
- Citizens of the Freely Associated States: the Federated States of Micronesia and the republics of Palau and the Marshall Islands; and
- Other eligible non-citizens.
The term “U.S. Citizen” includes citizens of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands. All U.S. citizens are considered to be U.S. nationals. However, not all nationals are U.S. citizens: natives of American Samoa and Swain's Island are not U.S. citizens, but are nationals and therefore may receive federal financial aid.
Replacing Lost DHS Documents
If a student cannot locate official USCIS documentation, the student must request that the documents be replaced because non-citizens who are 18 years and older must have immigration documentation in their possession at all times while in the United States. Requests for replacement documents should be made to the USCIS District Office that issued the original documents.
If a student is in urgent need of the documents, the Freedom of Information Act allows the student to obtain photocopies of the documentation. The student may submit Form G-639, Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Request or simply send a letter of request to the appropriate district office. The address for the district office that serves Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin is:
USCIS Chicago District Office
101 W. Congress Pkwy.
Chicago, IL 60605
A complete list of USCIS offices is available on the USCIS website.