A strong economy is an inclusive economy in which all workers can thrive. Yet more than two million immigrants and refugees with college degrees are underemployed or unemployed in the U.S. Sixty percent hold international credentials.
Systemic barriers to economic mobility—including limited recognition of international credentials—impact individuals who are trying to rejoin their professions, deny communities critical social, cultural, and linguistic competence, and keep millions of dollars out of the U.S. economy each year.
There are opportunities for reform.
“My training and experience were recognized last year. Why is this year different? I can continue to serve and save lives.”
Lubab graduated from a top medical college in Baghdad and worked as a licensed pathologist for 18 years, saving countless lives until her own security was threatened. In 2014, she resettled with her family in the U.S. Seeking safety cost Lubab her career: Barriers to licensure, including time-consuming and costly medical exams and clinical training, prevented Lubab from rebuilding her medical career in the U.S. To support her family, she took a job at a restaurant.
In 2020, New Jersey granted Lubab a temporary medical license that allowed her to support the state’s COVID-19 pandemic response by caring for patients in a nursing home. However, the license has since expired. Lubab now works as a pathologist’s assistant.
Together, we can open pathways to success for all. We must:
Invest in accessible workforce development training and English language learning.
Support state and local efforts to advance the economic inclusion of immigrants and refugees.
Ensure that occupational licensing laws recognize international credentials.