Issue work authorization visas to meet critical workforce needs, and simultaneously grow California-born talent by improving system inefficiencies and inequities.

BACKGROUND

California faces significant shortages in its workforce and innovation talent, due both to a slowdown in immigration and to a shortage of college degrees needed for the state to maintain its global leadership in many industries. This policy proposal focuses on two key areas: creating a unique immigration policy to attract and retain talent, and ensuring access to quality education for young people born in the state. By addressing these issues, California can nurture a diverse and skilled workforce, bolster economic growth, and promote economic mobility.

KEY FEATURES 

  • Create work visa programs that allow individuals to live and work in California without fear of deportation, attracting skilled talent from across the globe.
  • Create state government work programs for non-citizens already here, regardless of federal immigration status, to fill state employment needs in healthcare, transportation, and other critical infrastructure sectors.
  • Develop policies and systems that allow for the transfer of academic credits across educational institutions, including K-12 schools, community colleges, and universities, enabling students to pursue education without disruption and maximize their learning opportunities.
  • Pursue agreements with other states to allow individuals to work and study with the same freedoms that they would enjoy in California.

IMPLEMENTATION AND SEQUENCING CONSIDERATIONS

  • If the UC Regents plan to hire undocumented immigrants survives a Supreme Court challenge, a state government worker program would not require changes to Congressional law.
  • Pilot or priority areas of community college course streamlining would be creation of professional certification programs in areas with significant worker shortages.
  • A “stepping stone” solution could be to implement universal occupational licensing recognition, ending the practice of requiring licensed workers from other states to jump through additional hoops in California. Safeguards could include states where California has a broad range of interstate agreements or compacts (see Breakthrough Solution #5).