All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Peter Verbeek

Advisory Committee Members

Tina Kempin Reuter

Courtney Andrews

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences


For immigrants to the United States, a credential evaluation can be the key to a stable and happy future. A credential evaluation allows individuals to access higher education or qualify for professional jobs. Unfortunately, refugees, and other groups in a refugee-like situation, are often unable to obtain an evaluation of their credentials due to barriers related to their status or experiences. These individuals are often unable to provide the official copies of their credentials required by credential evaluation companies and higher education institutions, in order to issue an evaluation. This paper seeks to enrich understanding of this issue by answering the question: What types of refugee-specific barriers do refugees encounter when retrieving official documentation for credential evaluation purposes? By identifying common barriers to accessing official documents and providing a framework for conceptualizing these barriers, this research is meant to bolster support for initiatives which have piloted alternative methodologies for the evaluation of refugee credentials. Through an online survey targeted at refugees, SIVs, and asylum seekers/asylees, this research explores the varied barriers refugees may encounter in accessing official education documentation. A set of supplementary semistructured interviews provides context and perspectives on these barriers. Finally, I provide a framework for conceptualizing these barriers, and I argue that, from a human rights perspective, and in order to uphold the spirit of refugee law, alternative approaches for the evaluation of refugee credentials are necessary.



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