Unnecessary barriers to employment have significant economic and workforce consequences
Immigrants with international credentials (particularly those who come as refugees) with often face distinct barriers to employment,. Complicated laws and inaccessible licensing processes prohibit some immigrants from securing professional licenses, even if they have the requisite education and training. Some immigrants with degrees and credentials earned abroad struggle to have those credentials recognized in the U.S. Research also shows that language barriers, education gaps, and lack of access to professional networks can hinder immigrants from fully utilizing their skills.
Skill underutilization for immigrants is a national economic and workforce problem with negative impacts across the economy and the country. MPI estimates that skill underutilization among immigrants, regardless of where they were educated, cost these professionals $39.4 billion in foregone earnings and cost the U.S. $10.2 billion in lost tax revenue. This money, which could be spent to boost local communities and fund government programs, is instead needlessly left on the table.
These barriers not only hinder economic growth, but also prevent immigrants from using their training and skills to benefit their communities and even save lives. Many immigrants working in industries that have been critical to responding to and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, like healthcare, have not been able to fully exercise their skills and training. Separate MPI analysis found that approximately 165,000 internationally educated immigrants with health-related degrees were underutilized in 2017, limiting the potential contributions of this critical workforce. Keeping tens of thousands of healthcare professionals stuck on the sidelines or relegated to routine tasks, when they could be treating patients and saving lives, is a tremendous waste of potential, especially in the midst of a national health emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic.