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Undocumented NJ residents now eligible for professional licenses

Governor Phil Murphy has signed legislation (S2455), which prohibits lawful presence in the United States as a qualification to obtain a professional or occupational license, provided that the applicant meets all other requirements for licensure. The bill impacts the roughly 500,000 undocumented residents in New Jersey, who will now be eligible for professional licenses such as nursing, counseling and cosmetology.

“New Jersey is stronger when everyone is given the opportunity to contribute and everyone is given a chance to live their American Dream,” said Governor Murphy. “This law sends a simple, powerful message that immigration status can no longer be used as an excuse to discriminate among equally educated, trained, and qualified individuals. As we look toward our shared economic future, we must ensure that no one is left behind and everyone who puts forward the effort can succeed.”

Under the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), states may grant an individual who is not lawfully present in the United States eligibility for certain State or local public benefits, including professional and commercial licensure, through the enactment of state law.

“Today New Jersey is removing barriers that prevented talented, hardworking individuals from realizing their full potential as vital members of the state’s workforce,” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal“By welcoming all qualified individuals into our professional ranks, we not only benefit from their contributions to our economy, we are building and strengthening communities across our state.”

“This legislation is a win-win for New Jersey workers and for employers looking to hire workers with specific training and skills,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “I’m proud to see our state leading the nation in prioritizing the economic stability of all families.”

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