IMPRINT: Immigrant Professional Integration

Opening Pathways for Immigrant and Refugee Professionals


There is a robust pipeline of international health professionals waiting to contribute their lifesaving skills to America’s health care workforce. The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) estimates that there are 263,000 immigrants and refugees with health-related degrees in the U.S. who are currently working in low-skilled jobs, are unemployed, or are out of the labor force. Of those, more than six in ten are internationally educated.[ii]

In response to COVID-19, governors in New Jersey, Nevada, Colorado, Michigan, New York, and Massachusetts have used their emergency executive authority to allow qualified health care professionals with international licenses to obtain temporary licenses during the COVID-19 crisis.

On July 13, 2020, Governor Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-150 effectively rescinding Executive Order 2020-61.

This map tracks the states that have issued emergency executive orders to date and shows the number of under- or unemployed internationally trained health care professionals with at least a bachelor’s degree in those states.[i]

Policy Resources

These resources can help advocates working to advance licensing reforms for internationally trained immigrant and refugee health workers:

Policy Brief: How states can tap internationally trained health professionals in the U.S. to address healthcare shortages
Summary of State Executive Orders adjusting licensing requirements for internationally trained health workers
IMPRINT Policy Map which tracks policies across the U.S. related to occupational licensing and internationally trained immigrants and refugees
Removing Barriers to Practice: Internationally Trained Physicians and State Policy Options
Promoting Economic Mobility for Immigrants and Refugees with International Credentials

For additional resources, visit the WES Global Talent Bridge COVID-19 Resource page.

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• Underutilized adults are defined here as civilians aged 25 to 64 who are currently employed in jobs requiring no more than a high school diploma, are unemployed, or are not engaged in the labor force
• Immigrants refer to persons who were not U.S. citizens at birth. This population includes naturalized U.S. citizens, lawful permanent immigrants (or green-card holders), refugees and asylees, certain legal nonimmigrants (including those on student, work, or other temporary visas), and persons residing in the country without authorization
• Internationally educated are defined here as immigrants who came to the United States at age 25 or later with at least a bachelor’s degree (i.e., they likely obtained their degrees abroad), while U.S.-trained are immigrants who arrived before age 25 and obtained their four-year college degrees in the U.S.
[ii] Migration Policy Institute, “As U.S. Health-Care System Buckles under Pandemic, Immigrant & Refugee Professionals Could Represent a Critical Resource,” (April 7, 2020), available at: