Cosmetologists, teachers, and engineers all have something in common – they are among the fields that require licensure for employees. This month we sat down with Bill Norbert from the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) to learn about supports that can help people who are foreign-trained get a license in Maine to be employable in their field.
1. What is FAME?
FAME is an independent state agency whose mission is to provide innovative financial solutions to help Maine citizens pursue business and educational opportunities. FAME helps people and businesses that traditional banks might call “high-risk.”
2. What is the Foreign Credentialing and Skills Recognition Revolving Loan Program (Foreign Credentialing Loan)?
FAME provides loans to help cover costs of becoming work-ready while waiting for a work permit.
3. Who is eligible for these loans? You must be an immigrant living in Maine and demonstrate that you have filed an application for a work permit. You are not eligible for the program if you have been denied a work permit.
4. How can I apply? Go to FAME’s website (www.famemaine.com) and complete the online application. Before starting the application, download and review the application guidelines and checklist. To complete the online application, you will need the following documents:
● A copy of identification documentation, such as a passport (biographic data page only), consular identification card, or other government-issued identification documentation, even if expired.
● Invoices or screenshots of expenses that the loan funds will be used to cover.
● Either a copy of your USCIS receipt (electronic or paper receipt) for filing USCIS Form I-765 with an eligibility category beginning with C, or if you are an asylum seeker and your USCIS Form I-589 has been pending for less than 150 days, a copy of the USCIS Form I-589 filing receipt.
● The application may be filed directly by you or, if you need help, ask at your local adult education program.
4. What can the funds be used for? Loans can be used for “eligible costs.” Some examples:
● Costs of translation into English of any diplomas, transcripts, certifications or other proof of trainings or experience; documents related to professional licenses, registrations, or certifications of trainings or other experience obtained abroad; letters of reference or recommendations; etc.
● Fees related to education evaluations to establish the equivalency level of education or experience attained abroad.
● Fees related to test preparation courses or registration fees for a standard test of English as a foreign language such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language® (TOEFL) or other standardized test recognized worldwide that measures English language proficiency, when necessary for an immigrant’s work, including transportation costs in some cases.
● Expenses for employment or professional applications, certifications, licensing fees, and related requirements for seeking employment, including but not limited to fingerprinting and required tests.
● Fees related to obtaining a Maine driver’s license, including a commercial driver’s license, including but not limited to driver’s education course fees, learner’s permit application fees, and driver’s license fees.
● Costs of a filing fee required by the U,S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or any successor federal agency, to apply for the immigrant’s initial work permit.
5. Where can I learn more? On the FAME website (www.famemaine.com), search “Foreign Credentialing Loan Program” to find the page that displays detailed information about the application procedure. https://www.famemaine.com/affording-education/make-a-plan/planning-tips-for/new-mainers/foreign-credentialing-loan/
6. Are there any other programs at FAME that people should know about? Anyone interested in obtaining financing for their business needs or higher education needs should visit the website (www.famemaine.com). Also, we provide college outreach and financial education information for those planning to attend some form of higher education. We also administer NextGen 529®, a tax-advantaged education savings program, and a variety of grant, loan, loan repayment, and other resources for affording higher education.