Occupational Mobility Among Legal Immigrants to the United States



Using data from the New Immigrant Survey Pilot, which follows immigrants for one year after receiving green cards, occupation in the U.S. is compared with that of the last job abroad. Fifty percent of immigrants experience downgrading. Among the highest-skilled immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean, more than three-fourths end up in lower-skilled jobs than what they had abroad. Human capital acquired in Latin America and the Caribbean is valued less than that from Europe, Australia, and Canada in the U.S. labor market, while immigrants with some U.S. education can increase the returns to that acquired previously abroad.