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Pou Bill to Clarify, Expand Licensure Requirements Regardless of Citizenship, Immigration Status Advances

TRENTON –A bill sponsored by Senator Nellie Pou that would expand current law so that any state entity that issues professional or occupational licenses shall not require individuals to demonstrate lawful presence in New Jersey to obtain certain licensure today cleared the Senate Commerce Committee.


“Official citizenship and / or immigration status should not be an impediment for those individuals in our state who are looking to live their part of the American Dream. Fourteen other states have removed such status requirements from their professional licensing systems, and it is time for New Jersey to join their ranks,” said Senator Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen), Chair of the Commerce Committee.


The new legislation builds on a bill signed into law in September 2020 that explicitly states that lawful presence in the United States shall not be a requirement to take or obtain a professional or occupational license, provided the applicant meets all other requirements for licensure.


That law covered licenses overseen by the Division of Consumer Affairs. This bill would cover the roughly 130 licenses offered by other agencies, including teaching certificates in the Department of Education.


According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “the current licensure system deters skilled immigrants with work authorization from working in jobs for which they have experience and training, hampering their ability to contribute their skills to the U.S. economy.”


The bill cleared committee by a vote of 3-2.