Today, immigrants account for 17% of all college educated adults in the U.S. compared with 10% in 1990. The rise in college education and English proficiency began about ten years ago – when Asian immigration overtook Latin American immigration.
When you take into account all foreigners in the U.S., 48% of foreigners 25 years or older came to the United States between 2011 and 2015 with college graduates compared to 31% of US born adults and 2015. Half of the college educated immigrants are from Asia. There are more recent college educated foreigners who arrived from Latin American than from Europe.
This high rate exists because of temporary visa holders, who (in the 2011-105 period) were 84% college educated compared with 33% among those awarded green cards in this period. The college education rate of recent naturalizations was 31%.
The percentage of recent immigrants with college degrees is 10% to 20% higher in most states than the college educated percentage of native born persons. The college education rate of recently arriving foreigners 25 years or older ranges from the low 80s in Vermont and District of Columbia to 25% in Arkansas (and lower in MT and SD).
Still, most immigrants arrive with limited English proficiency – 57%, through that percentage has declined from 66%. As of 2015, 34% of immigrants were bilingual, meaning they spoke English well and another language at home. Another 16% spoke only English at home.
The following is the percentage of all immigrants 18 or older who spoke only English at home or who were bilingual (spoke English “very well”), by date of arrival:
1986 – 1990: 35%
1996- 2000: 34%
2006 – 2010: 36%
2011- 2015: 43%