For Students

The main project of the Columbia Human Rights Initiative (HRI) is running and developing the Columbia Human Rights Initiative Asylum (CHRIA) Clinic, which provides medical evaluations for clients seeking asylum in the United States.

Medical students work with physicians by coordinating and assisting in evaluations and helping to write the resulting affidavit that documents any physical and psychological manifestations of torture and abuse. All medical students are eligible to participate in the Asylum Clinic once they have attended a training session.

Join the Asylum Clinic as a Student Evaluator

All Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (VP&S) medical students are eligible to see clients in the Asylum Clinic alongside our faculty evaluators. Before joining the clinic, students must complete a one-day training, which provides a background in understanding asylum law, conducting clinical evaluations, and writing a legal affidavit. Training is held in the fall and spring semesters, and has asynchronous and synchronous components.

Join the Human Rights Initiative Executive Board

The application process to join our executive board<link to: NEW MEET OUR TEAM PAGE> begins every fall in conjunction with the other VP&S clinics. All incoming board members are required to attend the training with the student evaluators and attend a 1.5-hour board meeting every two weeks.


Students highly value the training and experience they gain through participation in CHRIA, as indicated by testimonials such as the following.

I am not sure that outside of CHRIA Clinic will I ever in my career have the opportunity to serve an objective role providing evidence for court, a role in which I can apply my medical knowledge to help support and even bolster the stories of those seeking a second chance at life after indescribable injustices. In addition to cultivating my passion for helping humans escape brutally unfair circumstances, I know that my experiences will not only inspire me to be active on behalf of the Human Rights Initiative and to work with Asylum Clinics wherever my career may take me, but to also incorporate the unique lessons and perspectives learned from working with CHRIA in my day-to-day practice as a physician.

By working with the clinic, I can leverage my training as a medical student to combat the racism and xenophobia built into immigration policies and support immigrant and refugee families like my own. It is a way for me to contribute directly to supporting the human rights of immigrants and refugees when so much feels overwhelming and out of our control. Every evaluation we do helps strengthen an asylum-seeker’s case, supporting them in moving one step closer towards safety, healing, and a new start.


Find out more about our next training session and other events.

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Contact Us

Contact our clinic for further information on evaluations, training sessions, events, support opportunities, and more.

Contact CHRIA