Pew Research: African Immigrants in USA are more highly educated than U.S. native-born population

In 2015 there were about 250,000 sub Saharan Africans living in the US as illegal immigrants


Africans migrating to the USA tend to be highly educated than U.S. native-born population. This is according to a Pew Research Center analysis of 2015 U.S. Census Bureau and Eurostat data.

Among sub-Saharan immigrants in the US aged 25 and above, 69% had some college experience. The Pew report adds that 92.9% of the African immigrants living in the U.S. had a paying job. Perhaps this explains the huge sums of money Africans in America Diaspora remit back home.

Globally, migrants from Africa with higher levels of education tend to migrate to more developed countries than those from other regions of the world. Some studies also have found that the least educated sub-Saharan Africans are not always the ones to migrate. But the specific destinations of those with higher education levels can vary.


Between 2010 and 2016, about a quarter of sub-Saharan African immigrants entered the U.S. through its diversity visa program, which requires applicants to have at least a high school education. This requirement may help explain why relatively few sub-Saharan immigrants in the U.S. – just 11% – have less than a high school education.

In recent years, nearly half of lawful permanent residents entering the U.S. from sub-Saharan Africa have entered as family members of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. Statistics on the education levels for this specific population are not publicly available. However, hints of overall education levels can be found in U.S. immigration statistics from 2015: about half of all immigrants from both North and sub-Saharan Africa who were active in the labor force and had obtained legal permanent residence reported working in a professional or managerial occupation. Such occupations often require a relatively high level of education.

Employment levels of immigrants from sub-Saharan African countries living in the U.S. are about the same as those of native born in the U.S. In 2015, 92.9% of sub-Saharan immigrants were employed compared with 93.8% of those born in the U.S.

According to UN global estimates, more than 1.5 million sub-Saharan African immigrants lived in the U.S. in 2015. According to Pew Research, in 2015 there were about 250,000 sub Saharan Africans living in the US as illegal immigrants.  This translates to one-in-seven sub-Saharan immigrants living in the country.