Employment and Immigration

Uncertainty about their future employment opportunities and immigration status is prevalent among the Chinese student population in the United States. Students’ strong sense of uncertainty results partly from their uncertain employment future and immigration status in the United States. After 9/11, the American job market is not promising because of the nation’s economic slump. No matter how capable a person is, without a green card, prospective employees find it difficult to land an interview (Xu 2006). In addition to the bleak job market, their uncertainty is enhanced by the instability of American immigration law. American immigrant policy is known for its ambivalence and unpredictability (Yeh 2000). Changes in immigration policy have been frequent and unpredictable. For instance, on June 13, 2007, the Department of State announced that starting July 2007, all employment-based categories for immigrant visas will be “current,” meaning that US businesses going through the lengthy and backlogged immigrant visa or “green card” process can, throughout July, file adjustment of status applications. However, only 20 days later, on July 02, 2007, the Department of State revised its July Visa Bulletin published on June 13 and rejected all the applications (Visa Bulletin 2007).

Facing this type of unpredictable policy, most Chinese students realize that immigration is not impossible, it is difficult.

On the other hand, the changing Chinese economy and Chinese peoples’ attitudes toward returning students make them gradually less favorable in the Chinese job market. According to Xu (2006), the deprecation of returning students has been caused by a combination of three factors: (1) the steep rise in the number of returnees as the Chinese economy has boomed in recent years, (2) the growth of homebred talent, and 3) the returning students’ unreasonably high expectations and lack of working experiences. As a result, a strong sense of uncertainty characterized most Chinese students regarding the prospects of returning to China.

In terms of stay or return, in addition to employment and immigration consideration, sociocultural factors are taken into consideration in making final decisions. Due to their strong roots in China, to cultural alienation in America, and to the recency of their American experience, return expectations in the short term are low, while long-term intentions of staying in America are not high.

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