Credential Recognition in the United States for Foreign Professionals
This report examines both the formal and informal barriers to professional practice that foreign-trained professionals encounter when they migrate to the United States. Focusing on two industries, health care and engineering, the author illustrates the often overlapping, sometimes contradictory nature of rules, standards, and practices within the vast patchwork of organizations involved in the credential-recognition process, and identifies some of the most formidable obstacles preventing foreign workers from accessing the U.S. labor market.
The report finds that the length, complexity, and costs of U.S. medical training pose unique challenges for International Medical Graduates (IMGs), particularly for refugee and non-English speaking physicians who often lack the time, financial resources, language skills, and cultural knowledge critical for successfully navigating the recertification process. IMGs may also find it difficult to translate experience gained abroad into positive outcomes in the United States. On the other hand, foreign workers seem to fare relatively better in less-regulated U.S. engineering occupations. However, findings also suggest that immigrant engineers are more likely to be unemployed or underemployed, and earn lower incomes than their native counterparts.
With employment-based visa categories likely to expand in the coming years, the author argues in favor of systemic change in credential recognition and licensure processes in order to ensure that the skills and knowledge of immigrant professionals will not be wasted.
I. Introduction: The U.S. “System of Recertification
II. Barriers to Recertification: The Health Care Sector
B. Medical Training in the United States
C. Coming to the United States as a Nonimmigrant Physician
D. Initiatives to Support Retraining
III. Barriers to Recertification: Engineering