Illinois Relaxes English Exam Requirement For Immigrating Pros

by Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO (JGL) – If an immigrating professional has already passed the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) before gaining admission to a U.S. graduate program and had successfully completed a rigorous curriculum at an American college or university, there is no need for him to take another English test once he applies for a professional license in Illinois.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation following strong lobby by a broad coalition of professional groups, including Chicago-based Philippine Engineers and Scientists Organization (PESO).

This legislation is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to make Illinois the most welcoming state in the nation, and ensure all people have the opportunity to follow their dreams and reach their full potential.

In a bilingual press release, written in English and Filipino, the Illinois Governor’s office quoted Quinn as saying, “We want Illinois to be a welcoming state for highly qualified professionals from all over the world. Eliminating redundancies in our licensing process will encourage international students who have completed their studies to call Illinois home, and keep our state globally competitive.”

House Bill 4535, sponsored by State Representative Lou Lang (D-Skokie) and State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), removes the English proficiency exam requirement for architects and engineers with an advanced degree from an accredited U.S. graduate program.

The law will remove the expensive and redundant testing requirement, making it easier for qualified architects and engineers to begin practicing their professions and attracting highly qualified professionals to Illinois.

Aside from PESO, other groups that supported the new legislation included The South Asian American Policy and Research Institute; The Asian American Coalition of Chicago; Association of Chinese American Scientists and Engineers and The Hispanic American Construction Industry Association and others.

“Engineering and Design fields are some of the most portable global professions,” Northern Illinois University College of Engineering Dean Promod Vohra said. “This change in regulation helps to create a seamless environment for professionals from all parts of the world to be able to synergize and establish a community with a common purpose.”

Governor Quinn has made promoting business opportunity and minority employment in the state of Illinois a priority for his administration. He recently signed legislation promoting diversity in government investment contracts, with a focus on promoting businesses owned by minorities, women and individuals with disabilities.

As part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to make Illinois the nation’s most welcoming state in the nation, he created the Governor’s Office of New Americans to provide services, build partnerships and spearhead legislation to improve the integration of Illinois’ two million immigrants. The Governor has also more than doubled the number of Illinois Welcoming Centers, which provide a wide range of services to newcomers.

Since taking office, Governor Quinn has been a strong advocate for immigrants’ rights, including his efforts to enact the Illinois Dream Act and make Illinois the first state to require bilingual education programs to be available for non-English speaking students beginning in pre-school.

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