IMPRINT: Immigrant Professional Integration
In 2017, IMPRINT launched the first-of-its-kind interactive map to track state and federal policies from 2014 to the present. The map tracks current and pending legislation and other policies designed to help internationally-trained professionals rejoin their professions, or access other skilled occupations once in the U.S. The goal of the map is to assist advocates, policymakers, and practitioners working to reduce barriers to licensure and increase career opportunities for internationally-trained, work-authorized immigrants and refugees.
“This resource would not be possible without the committed organizations and policymakers in the field working to support immigrants and refugees,” says Stacey Simon, director of the IMPRINT Coalition.
The map currently covers policies that impact specific fields such as healthcare, teaching, law, and architecture. It also includes a “general” category that includes policies impacting high-skilled immigrants more broadly. Users can filter policies on the map by state, industry, and/or status, find descriptions about the legislation or policy, and access links to the policies themselves.
“The map illustrates a clear trend in policies relating to skilled immigrants that we’re seeing across the country,” says Simon. “In 2018 alone, California and New Hampshire both passed legislation that focuses on expanding opportunities for international medical graduates. Tennessee streamlined the eligibility requirements for internationally-educated lawyers to sit for the bar examination.”
In Pennsylvania, a pending bill seeks to establish an Office of New Americans (ONA) with the goal of integrating skilled immigrants into the Commonwealth’s socio-economic landscape. Similar legislation is pending in Maine. And these wouldn’t be the first to establish executive level offices of this type. California, Ohio, Michigan and New York already have similar offices, with some explicitly committed to expanding opportunities for internationally-trained immigrants.
Peter Gonzales, IMPRINT steering committee member and president and CEO of the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, shared his thoughts on what an ONA would mean for Pennsylvanians: “Having an Office of New Americans in Pennsylvania would allow organizations like the Welcoming Center to work locally knowing that there was work happening at the state government level to help lower or reduce barriers for immigrant integration, and more specifically, looking at making state licensing easier to navigate for foreign-trained professionals.”
The map also includes relevant legislation at the federal level. For example, in May 2018, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard reintroduced the Professional’s Access to Health (PATH) Workforce Integration Act. The bill would provide internationally trained health professionals, including immigrants legally residing in the United States, with tools that will help them continue their health care careers in the U.S. Specifically, the bill provides these individuals with counseling and training opportunities to reduce their barriers to entry and advancement in the health care workforce; assists in the evaluation of their international credentials; facilitates their access to more tailored English classes; and educates employers about the immense talent of internationally trained health professionals.
“The PATH Act will help to meet the health care needs of America’s growing and aging population, while at the same time strengthening our nation’s economy,” said Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard. “America’s shortage of health care professionals is a critical issue facing our country, particularly in minority and rural communities. Yet approximately 15 percent of immigrants with undergraduate degrees in medical and health sciences and services are either working in low-skilled jobs or looking for employment. The PATH Act will ensure that internationally trained health professionals with work authorization can use their talent and training to fill the health care shortages facing our country.”
In the coming weeks and months, IMPRINT will continue to monitor and track important policies impacting internationally-trained immigrants and refugees. The map is an evolving resource; anyone aware of additional policies that might be included should contact Fatima at [email protected].