While the United States has long been a top destination for the world’s best and brightest, it has fallen short when it comes to fully tapping the skills and training of these newcomers. As a result, nearly 2 million immigrants with college degrees in the United States—one out of every four—are relegated to low-skilled jobs or are unable to find work. This skill underutilization—often referred to as brain waste—comes at a significant cost to families and the U.S. economy: College-educated immigrants employed in low-skilled work miss out on more than $39 billion in wages. And as a result, federal, state, and local governments lose out on more than $10 billion in unrealized tax receipts, according to this study, which offers the first-ever estimates of the economic costs of brain waste….
Institutional barriers such as nonrecognition of foreign-acquired academic and professional qualifications by licensing bodies, discounting of foreign work experience by employers, lack of educational programs to “bridge” skills deficits, and a shortage of programs teaching professional and business English make it difficult, time-consuming, and costly for immigrants to gain skills needed to succeed in the US professional labor market.
Jeanne Batalova, Michael Fix, and James D. Bachmeier
Migration Policy Institute