Create Equitable Access to Licensing


Rural business owners create employment opportunities and generate critical economic activity. New rural business owners today are likely to be immigrants, formerly incarcerated people, or others who may face obstacles as they apply for the licenses they need to run their business. Barriers to obtaining both business and driver’s licenses can limit the success of aspiring entrepreneurs.

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State Policy Priorities

  • Ensure business and professional licenses and permits are accessible to people regardless of immigration status or former incarceration.
  • Remove excessive requirements, training, and fees to obtain business licenses, particularly in industries with large numbers of women and people of color.
  • Allow all state residents to apply for a driver’s license regardless of citizenship or legal status.

State Examples

  • Nevada (2019 NV AB 275) legislators enacted a bill that repealed citizenship requirements for all professional licenses and prohibits state licensing boards from denying an applicant based on their immigration status.
  • Colorado (2021 CO SB 199) lawmakers repealed a law[4] that prohibited individuals from receiving a professional or commercial license without verification of lawful presence in the country. The bill also repealed a law that prohibited state agencies or political subdivisions from contracting with a contractor that knowingly employs or contracts undocumented persons.
  • Indiana2018 IN HB 1245) legislation requires state and local licensing agencies and bodies to explicitly list the crimes that disqualify an individual from an occupational
[4] Small Business Majority. “Easing Requirements to Access Business Licenses in Colorado Would Boost Entrepreneurship among Undocumented Immigrants.” Small Business Majority, 7 June 2021,


Inspired? Ready to dig in on these issues with your rural neighbors? Our practical communications toolkits will help you connect with new communities through common values. The toolkits provide examples on narrative framing, press release templates, sample talking points, and more. 

Click here for the communications toolkit on Access to Rural Economic Opportunity.

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