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Ethnicity and the immigration of highly skilled workers to the United States

  • Guillermina Jasso

Purpose – This paper aims to examine ethnicity among highly skilled immigrants to the USA. Design/methodology/approach – The paper examines five classic components of ethnicity – country of birth, race, skin color, language, and religion – among persons admitted to legal permanent residence in the USA in 2003, as principals in the three main employment categories (EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3), using data collected in the US New Immigrant Survey. Findings – The visa categories have distinctive ethnic configurations. India dominates EB-2, European countries and Canada EB-1. The ethnicity portfolio contains more languages than religions. Language is shed before religion, and religion may not be shed at all, except among the ultra highly skilled of EB-1. Highly skilled immigrants are mostly male; they are not immune from lapsing into illegality; they have a shorter visa process than their cohortmates; smaller proportions than in the cohort overall intend to remain in the USA. Larger proportions in EB-2 and EB-3 sent remittances than in the cohort overall. A little measure of assimilation – using dollars to describe earnings in the country of last residence, even when requested to use the country's currency – suggests that highly skilled immigrants are more likely to “think in dollars” than their cohortmates. Research limitations/implications – The paper is like an aerial reconnaissance. It is necessary to now go under the ledges and into the caves. Originality/value – The data used are the first ever collected on a probability sample of new legal immigrants to the USA. It is expected that many researchers will use these data to generate valuable new knowledge.

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Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal International Journal of Manpower.

Volume (Year): 30 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1/2 (May)
Pages: 26-42

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Handle: RePEc:eme:ijmpps:v:30:y:2009:i:1/2:p:26-42
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