The article engages with occupational aspirations of highly educated refugees with the aim to explore how their social positions of being highly educated and a refugee inform their aspirations. It does so by drawing on semi-structured interviews with 30 highly educated refugees living in Malmö and Munich. Findings show how highly educated refugees’ occupational aspirations are informed by their educational and occupational resources, identity struggles and an interpretation of the local opportunity structures that is offered by public employment service (PES) case officers. The article thus argues that, rather than reflecting personal traits, occupational aspirations have socially grounded character. In doing so, the article contributes to the empirical knowledge about labour market integration of highly educated refugees, to our conceptualisation of refugee integration and to our understanding of the role that state integration programmes for refugees, particularly the PES case officers, play within it.

DOI: 10.1111/imig.12799
ISSN: 0020-7985