Are graduate students who are asylees pursuing a doctorate able to apply for funding from the National Science Foundation?

According to the proposal preparation and submission guidelines (part E):

Graduate students are not encouraged to submit research proposals, but should arrange to serve as research assistants to faculty members. Some NSF divisions accept proposals for Doctoral Dissertation Research Grants when submitted by a faculty member on behalf of the graduate student.

The guideline also says that one category of applicants for funding are:

Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) - Two- and four-year IHEs (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in the US, acting on behalf of their faculty members.

Does this mean faculty can apply for NSF funding through their academic institution for a student who has been granted asylum but is not yet a permanent resident?

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    We're in no position to answer officially for the NSF, so you should contact the NSF to get an official answer. However, it's quite common for non-resident alien students on F1 visas to be supported as research assistants on NSF grants, so I doubt that there would be any problem with an asylee being supported as an RA. On the other hand, only US citizens and permanent residents are elligible for the Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) – Brian Borchers Aug 20 '18 at 14:41
  • @BrianBorchers, this would be a nice answer... – OBu Aug 20 '18 at 20:22
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    The OP seems to have a misunderstanding about how NSF funding works- faculty members don't generally write a proposal to support a particular student, but rather to support a research program that might involve hiring one or more RA's, who might not be US citizens or residents. The GPRF is really the only way that a student can get funding to do a Ph.D., but it is limited to US citizens and permanent residents. – Brian Borchers Aug 20 '18 at 21:46
  • @BrianBorchers Indeed, my understanding of the NSF grant process was lacking. The comments here clarified the issue. – JohnDoe Mar 8 '19 at 18:41

That's a great question to ask the NSF directly, but generally everything the NSF does distinguishes people only by the following categories:

  • Their position in their career. For example, some programs are only available to graduate students, to early career faculty, etc.
  • Their citizenship status. Some programs are only available to citizens and permanent residents, but not others.

I have never seen a distinction based on the exact non-citizen (non-permanent resident) status. That would mean that it doesn't matter whether you are a student residing legally in the US because you have an F-1 visa, are an asylee, or are in the country through any other legal means.

(I will say that just because I haven't ever seen such a distinction doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. But I suspect the NSF doesn't care about these things.)

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    Your reference to “citizenship status” is misleading. As far as I know, no NSF funding opportunity is available to citizens but not to permanent residents. If you know of such an opportunity, please post a link to it, otherwise I think it would be good if you edit your answer to avoid creating a (very probably) false impression that NSF treats permanent residents differently from citizens. – Dan Romik Aug 20 '18 at 17:04
  • The asylum issue would in principle come up only when the student tries to get employment through the university, as they would need a visa that allows them to work as an RA. – aeismail Aug 20 '18 at 21:22
  • @DanRomik -- I don't know any, I was just hedging my bets. – Wolfgang Bangerth Aug 20 '18 at 23:21

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