Vermont To Grant Professional Licenses, Regardless Of Immigration Status, To Ease Labor Shortage

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Starting in September, Vermont will be able to grant professional licenses to people who meet the requirements, regardless of their immigration status, in a move supporters hope will ease Vermont’s labor shortage.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott signed the bill into law on Monday.

“We all know the challenges of our shrinking workforce and the need to maximize our state’s economic potential by employing professionals in occupations that best align with their skills and training, regardless of their immigration status,” Sen. Becca White, a Democrat, told Senate colleagues last month.

The law gives applicants the option of providing a federal employer identification number or an individual taxpayer identification number, instead of a social security number, to obtain or maintain a professional license or certification.

Ten other states have implemented some form of this policy, White said.

Persistent vacancies across all Vermont industries "continue to undermine efficiency and productivity of our local economy and create a supply chain delay in many industries that impacts consumer experiences and businesses,” she said.

The Vermont Department of Labor reported Thursday the state had over 7,700 open job postings. According to the latest data, the state had an unemployment rate of 2.2% in March.

The law extends to over 100 professional roles, including nurses, barbers, social workers, foresters and substance misuse counselors.

Matt Musgrave, deputy executive vice president of AGC/VT, a trade organization representing the construction industry, said Thursday the organization supported the legislation and is pleased that the governor signed it.

“We have a huge workforce development problem and we need all the tools in the toolbox that we can possibly have,” he said.

He also said it's a political issue for Vermont.

“We're saying to the world, we're opening our doors to you," Musgrave said. "We want you to come here. We want you to participate with us and more than we want you, we need you.”