Skip to main content

Caring from Afar: Asian H1B Migrant Workers and Aging Parents

Abstract

With the growth in engineering/technology industries, the United States has seen an increase in the arrival of highly skilled temporary migrant workers on H1B visas from various Asian countries. Limited research exists on how these groups maintain family ties from afar including caring for aging parents. This study explores the experiences and challenges that Asian H1B workers face when providing care from a distance. A total of 21 Chinese/Taiwanese, Korean, and Indian H1B workers participated in in-depth qualitative interviews. Key findings indicate that despite distance, caring relationships still continue through regular communications, financial remittances, and return visits, at the same time creating emotional, psychological, and financial challenges for the workers. Findings highlight the need for further research in understanding how the decline of aging parent’s health impacts the migrants’ adjustment and health in the United States.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  • Ackers, H. L., & Stalford, H. E. (2004). A community for children? Children, citizenship and internal migration in the EU. Adreshot: Ashgate.

    Google Scholar 

  • Amit, V. (Ed.). (2007). Going first class? New approaches to privileged travel and movement. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bacigalupe, G., & Lambe, S. (2011). Virtualizing intimacy: information communication technologies and transnational families in therapy. Family Process, 50(1), 12–26.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Baldassar, L. (2001). Visits home: Migration experiences between Italy and Australia. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Baldassar, L. (2007). Transnational families and aged care: the mobility of care and the migrancy of ageing. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 33(2), 275–297.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Baldassar, L., & Baldock, C. (2000). Linking migration and family studies: Transnational migrants and the care of ageing parents. In B. Agozino (Ed.), Theoretical and methodological issues in migration research: Interdisciplinary and international perspectives (pp. 61–89). Aldershot: Ashgate.

    Google Scholar 

  • Baldassar, L., & Merla, L. (Eds.) (2014). Transnational families, migration and the circulation of care: understanding mobility and absence in family life, Routledge Transnationalism Series.

  • Baldassar, L., & Pyke, J. (2014). Intra-diaspora knowledge transfer and ‘New’ Italian migration. International Migration, 52(4), 128–143.

  • Baldassar, L., Baldock, C., & Wilding, R. (2007). Families caring across borders: Migration, ageing and transnational caregiving. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  • Baldock, C. (2000). Migrants and their parents: caregiving from a distance. Journal of Family Issues, 21, 205–224.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Basch, L., Schiller, G. N., & Blanc Szenton, C. (Eds.). (1994). Nations unbound. Pennsylvania: Gordon and Breach.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bryceson, D., & Vuorela, U. (Eds.). (2002). The transnational family: New European frontiers and global networks. Oxford: Berg.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chavez, C. (2008). Conceptualizing from the inside: advantages, complications, and demands on insider positionality. The Qualitative Report, 13(3), 474–494.

  • Coles, A., & Fechter, A.-M. (Eds.). (2008). Gender and family among transnational professionals. New York: Taylor & Francis.

    Google Scholar 

  • Erhenreich, B., & Hochschild, A. (2003). Introduction. In B. Ehrenreich & A. Hochschild (Eds.), Global women: Nannies, maids and sex workers in the new economy (pp. 1–13). London: Granta Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Finch, J., & Groves, D. (1983). A labour of love: women, work, and caring. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fisher, B., & Tronto, J. (1990). Towards a feminist theory of caring. In E. K. Abel & M. K. Nelson (Eds.), Circles of care: Work and identity in women’s lives (pp. 35–62). New York: New York Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Freeman, G. P., & Hill, D. K. (2006). Disaggregating immigration policy: The politics of skilled labor recruitment in the US. In M. P. Smith & A. Favell (Eds.), The human face of global mobility: International highly skilled migration in Europe, North-America and the Asia-Pacific (pp. 103–129). New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  • Furukawa, R., & Driessnack, M. (2013). Video-mediated communication to support distant family connectedness. Clinical Nursing Research, 22(1), 82–94.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. C. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory. Chicago: Aldine.

    Google Scholar 

  • Glick, J. E. (2010). Connecting complex processes: a decade of research on immigrant families. Journal of Marriage and Family, 72(3), 498–515.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hawthorne, L. (2005). “Picking winners”: the recent transformation of Australia’s skilled migration policy. International Migration Review, 39(3), 663–696.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Holmes, M. (2006). Love lives at a distance: distance relationships over the lifecourse. Sociological Research Online, 11(3), 1–11.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Huang, S., Thang, L. L., & Toyota, M. (2012). Transnational mobilities for care: rethinking the dynamics of care in Asia. Global Networks, 12(2), 129–134.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kurotani, S. (2007). Middle-class Japanese housewives and the experience of transnational mobility. In V. Amit (Ed.), Going first class? New approaches to privileged travel and movement (pp. 15–32). New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lee, Y. S., & Niervera, M. (2009). Transnational families. In W.-C. Chen & G. Yoo (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Asian American issues today (pp. 943–951). San Francisco: Greenwood Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lee, Y. S., Moon, A., & Gomez, C. (2014). Elder mistreatment, culture, and help-seeking: a cross- cultural comparison of Chinese and Korean immigrants. Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect, 26(3), 244–269.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lunt, N. (2009). Older people within transnational families: the social policy implications. International Journal of Social Welfare, 18, 243–251.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Madianou, M., & Miller, D. (2012). Migration and new media: Transnational families and polymedia. Abingdon and New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mashayekhi, M. (2009). Contribution of migrants to development: Trade, investment and development linkages. Geneva: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Retrieved from http://unctad.org/en/docs/emditctncd_01_en.pdf.

  • Mazzucato, V., & Schans, D. (2011). Transnational families and the well-being of children: conceptual and methodological challenges. Journal of Marriage and Family, 73, 704–712.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Monger, R. & Barr, M. (2010). Non-immigrant admissions to the United States: 2009, Annual Flow Report, Department of Homeland Security Office of Immigration Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/statistics/publications/ni_fr_2009.pdf.

  • Reynolds, T. & Zontini, E. (2006). A comparative study of care and provision across Caribbean and Italian transnational families. Families & Social Capital ESRC Research Group Working Paper, 16, London South Bank University.

  • Roff, L. L., Martin, S. S., Jennings, L. K., Parker, M. W., & Harmon, D. K. (2007). Long distance parental caregivers’ experiences with siblings: a qualitative study. Qualitative Social Work, 6, 315–334.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sevenhuijsen, S. (2000). Caring in the third way: the relation between obligation, responsibility and care in third way discourse. Critical Social Policy, 20(1), 5–37.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Strauss, A. L., & Corbin, J. (1990). Basics of qualitative research: Grounded theory procedures and techniques. Newbury Park: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Syed, J. (2008). Employment prospects for skilled migrants: a relational perspective. Human Resource Management Review, 18(1), 28–45.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Thai, H. C. (2012). The dual roles of transnational daughters and transnational wives: monetary intentions, expectations and dilemmas. Global Networks, 12(2), 216–232.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (2012). Office of Legislative Affairs: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Fiscal year 2012 annual report to congress: Characteristics of H1B specialty occupation workers. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from http://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Resources/Reports%20and%20Studies/H-1B/h1b-fy-12-characteristics.pdf.

  • U.S. Department of Labor (2014). Wage and Hour Division (WHD), H1B program. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from http://www.dol.gov/whd/immigration/h1b.htm

  • Waseem, R.E. (2007). Immigration: Legislative issues on nonimmigrant professional specialty (H-1B) workers, CRS Report for Congress. Retrieved from http://migration.ucdavis.edu/wcpsew/files/CRS_5=23=07pdf.pdf.

  • Wilding, R. (2006). “Virtual” intimacies? Families communicating across transnational contexts. Global Networks, 6(2), 125–142.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wilding, R., & Baldassar, L. (2009). Transnational family-work balance. Journal of Family Studies, 15, 177–187.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Williams, A. (2007). Listen to me, learn with me: international migration and knowledge transfer. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 45(2), 361–382.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Williams, F. (2010). Migration and care: themes, concepts and challenges. Social Policy and Society, 9, 385–396.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Yoo, G. J. (2008). Immigrants and welfare: policy constructions of deservingness. Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies, 6(4), 490–507.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Yoo, G. J., & Kim, B. W. (2014). Caring across generations: the linked lives of Korean American families. New York: New York University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Zechner, M. (2008). Care of older persons in transnational settings. Journal of Aging Studies, 22, 32–44.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zimmer, Z., & Knodel, J. (2010). Return migration and the health of older aged parents: evidence from rural Thailand. Journal of Aging and Health, 22, 955–976.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zontini, E. (2006). Italian families and social capital: care provision in a transnational world. Community, Work and Family, 9(3), 325–345.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

The data used in the study was collected with support from San Francisco State University Faculty Public Policy Research Seed Grants. The authors are grateful to Asian H1B migrant workers who participated in this study, as well as our research assistants, Tammy Yu and Jonathan Lee, for their valuable assistance.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Yeon-Shim Lee.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Lee, YS., Chaudhuri, A. & Yoo, G.J. Caring from Afar: Asian H1B Migrant Workers and Aging Parents. J Cross Cult Gerontol 30, 319–331 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10823-015-9268-7

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10823-015-9268-7

Keywords

  • Asian H1B migration
  • Care provision
  • Financial/Psychological distress
  • Transnational caregiving