Selection Issues in Temporary Work Programs: Are Those Who Overstay Their Visas Different Than Those Who Return?
A substantial proportion of unauthorized immigrants living in the United States entered our country not by stealth, illegal border crossings, but by using legitimate guest worker visas. While most of these visa holders return to their home country at the expiration of their work credentials, many others remain and become part of the unauthorized population. This paper examines the pre-migration differences between the (supposedly) temporary workers who "overstay" and those who return on time as expected. Observable, pre-migration characteristics (such as English language ability and age) and post-migration choices (industry of occupation, remittance activity) can help predict a temporary worker's return decision. Equipped with this knowledge, the Department of Homeland Security can craft guest worker visa provisions to target workers who statistically have the greater likelihood of returning. These could include improved application procedures, eligibility requirements, employer provisions, and even marketing techniques.
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