Historic passing of bill will allow certain immigrants to access professional and commercial licenses

Thousands of immigrants across the state will now be able to receive licensure to practice in their desired fields.

NASHVILLE - Thursday, April 14, the Tennessee State Senate voted twenty to seven, passing Workforce Expansion Bill (SB2464) sponsored by Republican State Senator Shane Reeves with bipartisan support. This final vote comes on the heels of the passage of its House companion bill (HB2309), sponsored by Democratic State Representative Bob Freeman, also passing with 56 to 35 bipartisan votes in the Tennessee State House chamber. Once law, this legislation would affirmatively allow certain immigrants, such as DACA recipients and TPS holders, to obtain licensure in their desired specialty or trade. Over 7,000 DACA recipients and 3,000 TPS holders will benefit from this piece of legislation. The Workforce Expansion Bill is a huge step in addressing ongoing labor shortages taking place in a wide variety of industries by allowing anyone with a federally authorized work permit to access professional and occupational licenses, so long as they meet all other requirements of the respective licensing board.

"This bill is a huge move forward in addressing immediate needs in our workforce in a significant way. When this law goes into effect, thousands of skilled and professionally trained workers who have followed the law and taken the correct steps to contribute to Tennessee's economy will be able to step into a career that will benefit our state and their families for generations." - Ben Simpson, Chief Policy Officer, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce

“This is a victory for all Tennesseans, for our state’s economic and workforce recovery efforts, and for immigrants who love to call Tennessee home. Immigrants with work permits can pursue their dreams and join the skilled workforce, employers will have a bigger and more diverse pool of workers, and we know that all our communities will benefit from this common sense legislation. While we are thrilled that now that the bill has gone through the process of passing with bipartisan support in the House and Senate, it is headed to the Governor’s desk for his signature. We urge Governor Lee to enthusiastically sign this bill into law, and bring some much needed relief to the sectors who have been slow to recover from the pandemic. For several years we have had community members approach us saying that the current, outdated law prevented them from accessing the required licensure to practice in their desired fields. Immigrants who have received the same education and training as their peers deserve to have the same opportunities to pursue their desired career goals and livelihoods. This piece of legislation not only recognizes that immigrants are essential to creating a thriving Tennessee, but it also transforms the licensure process from a barrier to a gateway of opportunity.” - Lisa Sherman Luna, Executive Director, Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition Votes (TIRRC Votes)

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