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26/02/2018 - 12:00hs

NGO assists refugees with recognition of degrees

Compassiva, in a partnership with the UN, is working on the project of recognition of degrees since 2015. To this day, 160 cases were taken, with 18 diplomas received and 48 still ongoing.

São Paulo – The NGO Compassiva is assisting refugees on the recognition of their diplomas in São Paulo. The project began in 2016, assisting people with graduation, master’s and doctor’s degrees in their home countries. The NGO has already taken up 160 cases, with 18 diplomas received and 48 still ongoing.


Leitão: revalidation brings dignity and independence to refugees

“The process can reintegrate the refugee into society and allow him to work in his area of expertise, earning a better wage, in addition to contribute to the market and the Brazilian economy,” said the CEO of Compassiva, André Leitão.

Those of Arab origins seeking help come mainly from Syria (near 50% of the total) and from countries such as Yemen, Sudan, Iraq, Libya, Tunisia and Egypt. There are cases of recognition filled by refugees from other nationalities also, such as Congo, Iran, Ghana, Angola, Cuba, Cameroon and Pakistan. The main courses are Engineering (and subdivisions), Pharmacy and Sciences (Technology, Accounting and Information).

Compassiva was founded in 2014 and began by offering Portuguese classes to Arabic-speaking refugees (Syrians, Iraqis, Palestinians, Egyptians, among others). From then on, it got to know and understand the needs of each one of them, and created, in 2016, a project focusing on diplomas, with the financial support from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The UN agency also helps with red tape and in humanizing the process.

For Leitão, the recognition “is more than a paper, is a recovery of the dignity and identity of the person, plus it’s a way for them to obtain a permanent integration and reach independence faster.”


To revalidate a diploma, one must have the original diploma, the school records and the program content. Any person can apply for the process. At Compassiva, attorney Camila Suemi is the one responsible for the project. The documents are sent to a public university (state or federal), alongside the certified translation, which could cost up to BRL 10,000 (USD 3,140). The universities also charge a fee that can reach up to BRL 3,200 (USD 1,010);

The NGO covers all these revalidation costs, however, it doesn’t have the means to reduce the waiting period for the document to be sent. “By law, the university has up to 180 days to return it, but we’ve had cases that took between one month and a year,” said Leitão. He said that a bill was approved last year to eliminate the revalidation fees in São Paulo state universities, but that it’s been waiting the governor’s signature.

Quick info

Revalidation of Diplomas for Refugees
NGO Compassiva
Phone: 55 11 2537-3449

*Translated by Sérgio Kakitani

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