chapter  19
10 Pages

Brain Drain, Exchange and Gain

‘Hi-skill’ migrants and the developed economies
WithDavid Washbrook

A global phenomenon of the second half of the twentieth century has been the flow of highly skilled labour from the developing to the developed economies, especially to the United States (US) and Europe. Within this flow, migrants from South Asia (especially India) have figured particularly large. The case of the US, for which data are better and more refined, makes the point most clearly. The Luce-Celler Act of 1946 first opened the US to significant immigration from India but limited numbers to 2, 000 per year. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 widened the quota to 20, 000 but set rigorous standards of required education and skill-training. Subsequently, the size of the quota has expanded several times and been supplemented by the H1-B visa, enabling short-term immigration for specific work purposes, but with opportunities to convert to permanent residence (Lowe: 1996). In 2000, the number of H1-B visas available to foreign workers was raised to 195, 000, of which Indians took over 60, 000. Also, opportunities for higher education (with parallel possibilities of settlement) increased rapidly over the period. In 2006, 76, 000 students from India were studying at US universities (US, DHS: 2010).