Policies Towards Highly Skilled Migrants: Comparative Analysis of Canada, USA and EU

122 Pages Posted: 20 Feb 2011 Last revised: 12 Jun 2011

Date Written: July 27, 2010


My Master’s thesis is among the few, if not the only work which studies in comparative perspective the public policies of Canada, USA and EU (EU level) in the field of highly skilled migration. I find that this type of migration is understudied, not supported by any of the migration-related organizations, most probably due to its business nature. The triple case study explores the Canadian federal points-based system and the Provincial Programs; the US Green Cards and the H-1B visas; and the EU directive concerning the Blue Cards.

Contemporary migration tends to fall within two major categories - ‘horizontal’ and ‘vertical’ - of which the former dominates (South-South and North-North rather than South-North). I predict an open supply-driven model of recruitment of int’l students (who are defined by OECD as a form of highly skilled migrants) and a forthcoming wave of emigration from Europe due to over-qualification while the labour market is oriented towards middle-skilled professionals. I find that the USA and Canada are relatively open to int’l students whereas the final EU directive doesn’t target students at all (actually the Council cancels the Commission’s derogations for students). My original contribution to the field goes as far as I dwell on who among all immigrants in the US the highly skilled are; how the Canadian federal points system was modified and what the implications for the highly skilled are; and how the EU directive reflects the position of the EU institutions - the Commission, the Parliament and the Council - in the decision making processes.

While the EU shouldn't have followed US most restrictive migration regulations, and the Canadian occupation lists seem to have followed the Australian policies, New Zealand’s policies aimed at attracting skilled migrants (not discussed in detail in the thesis but mentioned in the 1st chapter and the conclusions) seem the most liberal of all English-speaking countries. Furthermore, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and United Arab Emirates can be regarded as emerging destination countries for highly skilled immigrants. Since there is a time lag between a decision is taken and implemented (esp. in EU); and given that highly skilled people are highly mobile and policies targeting their selection are very competitive and dynamic, all potential host countries have to improve their planning capacity.

The paper is written in French, summary and conclusion in English on p. XIII-XIX.

Note: Downloadable document is in French.

Keywords: Highly Skilled Migration, Comparative Public Policy, Labour Market, International Students, Education, Green Cards, H-1B, US Permanent and Temporary Migration, Canadian Points System, Provincial Nominee Programs, List of 38, C-50, EU Blue Card Directive, EU Commission, EU Parliament, EU Council

JEL Classification: I23, J20, J24, J61, J80, O38, O51, O52, O57

Suggested Citation

Petrova, Hristina, Policies Towards Highly Skilled Migrants: Comparative Analysis of Canada, USA and EU (July 27, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1763926 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1763926

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