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Accepted Paper:

“It is not about the money...”: Highly-skilled migration from post-Soviet Russia to Vienna  
Asia Zaitceva (Comenius University)

Paper short abstract:

The present paper critically examines the trajectories of highly-skilled migration from post-Soviet Russia towards Western European countries (as exemplified by Vienna/Austria).

Paper long abstract:

One of the least discussed legacies of communism refers to the memory of how bureaucratically difficult it had been to change one’s place of residence. By turning relocation “abroad”, with reference to so-called developed Western countries, into an exclusive privilege, communism made it desirable and synonymous with a prized social success (Krastev and Holmes 2019). In this regard, post-Soviet Russia is an illustrative example wherein amid political establishment and celebrities it has been “traditionally” highly-qualified “best and brightest” (Maltseva 2016) who have got the means, professional skills and ambitions to move outside country’s borders. Even though relocation has become less regulated and “marked by power and privilege”, Russian passport still provides little space for international mobility. Under these circumstances highly-qualified Russian migrants are prone to follow one of the following trajectories - either on a supra-national level by working as expats for international organisations, or enter the chosen country by means of a student visa and search for employment on-site. In order to investigate this I will focus on the case of Russian highly-qualified “specialists” who come to Vienna not just to work/study but also to settle down there. Whereas an expat status allows and to some extent promotes “light” immersion/integration into the local social and cultural context, student visa holders tend to regard familiarizing with a host culture, what includes proficiency in German as well as grasping local realia particularly in relation to education and labour market, as an individual strategy of establishing long-term foothold and full legalisation.

Panel Mob03a
Highly skilled migrants: challenging ‘integration’ categories
  Session 1 Thursday 24 June, 2021, -