indica News Bureau-
A bill that would allow dependents of individuals holding an H1-B visa to pay lower in-state tuition at public colleges and universities in New Jersey was approved by the state Senate Higher Education Committee on June 6.
State Sen. Vin Gopal sponsored the legislation. Sen. Gopal is a Democratic and represents New Jersey State Senate, District 11.
For purposes of defining an H1-B visa, the bill states, “According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the H-1B visa category applies to people who wish to perform services in a specialty occupation, services of exceptional merit and ability relating to a federal Department of Defense cooperative research and development project, or services as a fashion model of distinguished merit or ability.”
Gopal stated, “These students live in New Jersey and graduate from high school in New Jersey, but because of the specific kind of job their parent holds, they’re forced to pay extreme tuition costs. That doesn’t make any sense and goes against our commitment to keep our students in our state throughout their studies. This bill gives these students the opportunity to receive an affordable higher education in New Jersey, which allows them to stay close to family and the communities they know while strengthening their ability to find work in-state after graduating.”
Through the bill, S-2555, students whose parents or guardians hold the H1-B visa would be exempt from paying out-of-state tuition fees, given that they fulfill the conditions set out in the bill.
The bill lists the following criteria to be fulfilled by the students, “(1) attended high school in New Jersey for three or more years; (2) graduated from a high school in the state or received the equivalent of a high school diploma in the state; (3) registers as an entering student or is currently enrolled in a public institution of higher education not earlier than the fall semester of the 2013-2014 academic year; and (4) in the case of a person without lawful immigration status, files an affidavit with the institution of higher education stating that the student has filed an application to legalize his immigration status or will file an application as soon as he is eligible to do so.”
Gopal represents the 11th Legislative District in the New Jersey Senate, which covers several regions of the Monmouth County and was the first Indian American to be elected to the same.