For Many Immigrants With Advanced Degrees, It's 'Sink Or Swim'

14 min
Wilmer Garcia Ricardo is now a medical resident in the San Joaquin General Hospitals’ family medicine department. He said obtaining work experience in the U.S. through the UCLA International Medical Graduate program was key to obtaining his residency position. (Farida Jhabvala Romero/KQED)

When Dr. Wilmer Garcia Ricardo came to the U.S. from Cuba he couldn't find work as a physician, and he had to figure out the licensing process almost entirely on his own.

He's not the only one. An estimated 450,000 immigrants living in California have a degree but are underemployed.  Many have to take on low-wage jobs. So why is it so hard to prevent ‘brain waste’ of highly skilled immigrants, especially in fields where so much help is needed?

Guest: Farida Jhabvala Romero, KQED immigration reporter