High-Skill Immigrants In Low-Skill Jobs

by Center For Immigration Studies –

Selection based on educational credentials alone will not bring in the “best and brightest”

Washington, D.C. (July 12, 2018) – A new report published by the Center for Immigration Studies reveals an “occupational mismatch” among highly educated immigrants, those who arrive in the United States with a college degree or more. The report calls into question how much paper education credentials should play in a merit-based immigration system.

Highly educated immigrants often hold jobs for which they appear over-qualified on paper; only 22 percent of immigrants with at least a college degree have an elite-skill occupation. These immigrants’ skills often do not fully transfer to the U.S. labor market, and just as importantly, the value of their higher education varies depending on their sending country.

Jason Richwine, an independent public policy analyst and author of the report, cautions lawmakers on their approach to high-skill immigration policy. Richwine points out that “Highly educated immigrants certainly offer more economic benefits than less-educated immigrants, but paper credentials are not necessarily a reliable predictor of employment or income success.”

View the full report at: https://cis.org/Report/HighSkill-Immigrants-LowSkill-Jobs

Some notable findings:

• Among immigrants with a college degree, 20 percent have a low-skill (bottom third) occupation, compared to 7 percent of natives.

• Nearly 30 percent of Mexican immigrants with a college degree have a low-skill occupation, as do 35 percent of Central American immigrants.

• About 85 percent of Canadian immigrants with at least a college degree have a high-skill (top third) occupation, compared to 73 percent of natives and 53 percent of Mexican immigrants.

• Among immigrants with an advanced degree, 37 percent have an elite-skill (top tenth) occupation, compared to 50 percent of natives.

• Length of U.S. residency is not strongly correlated with occupational skill level.

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