Accepted Paper:

The role of migration intermediaries in constructing "highly skilled migrants"  


Laure Sandoz (NCCR On the Move, University of Neuch√Ętel)

Paper short abstract:

This paper focuses on the practices of various institutions in order to attract and facilitate the settlement of highly qualified professionals in Switzerland. It analyses their strategies to bypass administrative barriers related to national immigration policies.

Paper long abstract:

While most of the research on migration intermediaries has focused on 'illegitimate' practices such as trafficking and irregular migration, little work has been conducted on the 'migration industry' that surrounds more 'privileged' forms of migration. This paper addresses this gap by examining the role of institutions in attracting and facilitating the settlement of highly qualified professionals in Switzerland. Based on an ethnographic field research in two different linguistic regions with a high economic dynamism and immigration rate, the paper analyses the interactions between state and non-state institutions. It highlights the strategies developed by these actors in order to bypass administrative barriers due to national regulations on immigration. It also shows how such strategies contribute to producing a category of 'mobile professionals' who are able to avoid most of the inconveniences associated with immigration policies and bureaucratic practices.

Panel RM-MRB10
The bureaucratic routes to migration: migrants' lived experience of paperwork, clerks and other immigration intermediaries