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Marcela F. González – High skilled immigrants’ pathways from risky to secure legality in the United States

Marcela F. González (Alum) published an article titled “High skilled immigrants’ pathways from risky to secure legality in the United States,” in Ethnic and Racial Studies, 43:15, 2807-2825.

Based on 30 semi-structured interviews, I analyse the stories high-skilled immigrants told about their legal trajectories since their arrival in the United States. I explain immigrants’ two pathways from temporary or risky legality to permanent or secure legality: the Uninterrupted Pathway to Legalization and the Contingent Pathway to Legalization. Specifically, I explain how navigating a temporary, or risky, legality before acquiring permanent residency privatizes risk by forcing immigrants in the second pathway to shape their legal trajectory for themselves. Given that high-skilled immigrants spend many years under temporary legal statuses, in a context of legal uncertainty and an indeterminate timeframe for achieving permanent residency, high-skilled immigrants embrace an involuntary agency. Privatization of risk refers to the shift in the cost burden of the legal path towards permanent residency. The burden has shifted from institutions – the employer and the government – to high-skilled immigrants themselves.