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How Restricted is the Job Mobility of Skilled Temporary Work Visa Holders?


  • Jennifer Hunt
  • Bin Xie


Using the National Survey of College Graduates, we investigate the job mobility of skilled workers holding U.S. temporary visas. Such workers either have legal restrictions on their ability to change employers or may be reluctant to leave an employer who has sponsored them for permanent residence. We find that the voluntary job‐changing rate is similar for temporary work visa holders and natives with similar characteristics, but that it spikes when temporary work visa holders obtain permanent residence. The spike magnitude implies mobility is reduced during the application period by about 20 percent, alleviating concerns that employers exercise strong monopsony power.

Suggested Citation

  • Jennifer Hunt & Bin Xie, 2019. "How Restricted is the Job Mobility of Skilled Temporary Work Visa Holders?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 38(1), pages 41-64, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:38:y:2019:i:1:p:41-64

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Michael A. Clemens, 2013. "Why Do Programmers Earn More in Houston Than Hyderabad? Evidence from Randomized Processing of US Visas," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 198-202, May.
    2. Briggs Depew & Peter Norlander & Todd A. Sørensen, 2017. "Inter-firm mobility and return migration patterns of skilled guest workers," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 30(2), pages 681-721, April.
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    1. repec:nbr:nberch:14258 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. William R. Kerr, 2019. "The Gift of Global Talent: Innovation Policy and the Economy," NBER Chapters,in: Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 20 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    JEL classification:

    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers


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