State Department to pilot new program for refugees to attend college / public information service

By next fall, refugee students may be able to apply to attend U.S. colleges and universities. The State Department said it plans to pilot a new category for refugee admissions, known as P4.

P4 status would allow a group or institution to sponsor a refugee. A university sponsorship program would allow them to study in the United States and then apply for permanent residence.

Laura Wagner, project leader for the Initiative on US Education Pathways for Refugee Students, which is part of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, said the current international student visa program requires students to leave after graduation.

“Right now we get the best and the brightest in the world, and then we say, ‘Thank you, now you have to go back to your home country,’” explained Wagner. “While this would provide them with an opportunity to stay and continue to use and share these talents with their new community in the United States”

The Alliance recently released a report calling on the State Department to implement a P4 category in spring 2022. Community colleges and universities, including the University of California-Davis, would step up to offer free tuition fees . Service groups would cover other costs and the State Department would help with the relocation.

Wagner argued that refugees deserve a chance for a better future in the United States, a country founded by immigrants.

“Less than 1% of the world’s refugees can be resettled,” Wagner reported. “And we only have 5% of refugees entering higher education.”

Advocates for the pilot program say it could initially be limited to 30 students who apply next fall and start their college courses in 2024.

Support for this report was provided by the Lumina Foundation.

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