Employment for recent immigrants who received their university education in Asia lags behind Canadian-born university graduates by 25.2 percentage points, Statistics Canada reported Friday.

While 90.7 per cent of Canadian-born university graduates were employed, only 65.5 per cent of immigrants who had university degrees from Asia were employed, the study states.

It reveals that university-educated immigrants between 25 and 54 who arrived in Canada between 2002 and 2007 were less likely than their Canadian-born counterparts to be employed in 2007 regardless of the country in which they obtained their degree.

But immigrants who received their university degrees from the United States and Europe had a higher rate of employment than those educated elsewhere.

The longer most immigrants lived in Canada, the better were the chances of landing a job. However, that was not the case with people who received their university degrees in Asia.

The survey followed 108,000 immigrants who received a university degree in Asia and arrived in Canada before 1997. Their employment rate was 7.1 percentage points lower than their Canadian-born counterparts, the study states.

Gender plays prominent role

Even though women represented nearly half of all university-educated immigrants who arrived in Canada between 2002 and 2007, their participation in the labour force was significantly lower, especially for those born or educated in Asia.

The study says that challenges with the recognition of international credentials, as well as insufficient knowledge of either English or French, are the main contributing factors that lead to loss of earnings and underemployment for immigrants.

These issues widen the income gap between immigrants and the Canadian-born.

Previous studies have also indicated that the income gap narrows for immigrants who have been in Canada for more than a decade.

According to Statistics Canada a vast majority of immigrants chose to settle in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec.

Even though Quebec had the highest proportion of immigrants with a Canadian university degree, those who arrived in Quebec a decade ago had an employment rate well below that of Canadian-born graduates.

The study concludes by pointing out that though the employment gap between university-educated immigrants who arrived prior to 1997 and their Canadian-born peers was narrowing, there was one exception.

That was in Ontario, where the survey followed 61,000 Asian-educated immigrants who arrived almost a decade ago. Their employment rate was significantly lower than their Canadian-born peers.