To qualify for residency under the DREAM Act, the DREAM Act Portal lists several requirements. An individual must have entered the United States before the age of 16 and, at the time of application, be between the ages of 12 and 35. The person must have been in America for at least five consecutive years and graduated from an American high school, obtained a GED or enrolled in a university.
The last stipulation of the DREAM Act — that an applicant have "good moral character" — prevents youths with criminal records from applying. Teenagers who are considered security risks are also prohibited from applying under this requirement. The National Immigration Law Center points out that the DREAM Act offers residency status to a very limited group of immigrant children, specifically targeting high-achieving immigrant youths who arrived as children. The DREAM Act also allows youths who wish to join the military to apply.
According to the White House, the purpose of the DREAM Act is to provide opportunities for higher education among immigrant teenagers and contribute to the United States by enlisting in the military. The White House website explicitly refutes the idea that the DREAM Act offers amnesty to illegal immigrants, citing the lengthy and rigorous process as evidence. It also does not encourage illegal immigration.