Working paper

Incorporation of skilled migrants in a host country: insights from the study of skilled Indians in Switzerland

It is commonly accepted that mobility of people, especially of highly-skilled workers, has acquired a much more temporary character. Such fluid patterns of mobility call to attention the need to observe in what way highly-skilled migrants at present relate to their host societies, in the face of lasting expectations to relocate. This paper presents a case study of Indian migrants in Switzerland, who are characteristic for short-term stays. Nearly half of all Indians with tertiary education stay in Switzerland for less than five years. The selection of Switzerland as the case study of migrants’ incorporation in host society matters also in terms of possibilities for integration. With a relatively small Indian population, inter-ethnic contact opportunities are rather limited. This article presents a qualitative analysis aimed at understanding the migratory space of skilled migrants with a particular focus on the effects of migratory plans on creations of their space. The ways in which skilled migrants’ mobilities are embodied is examined by the type of networks and solidarity relations they build up with the local community within their transnational space through their professional and social activities as a response to their need to create local anchorage. The article brings together different strands of research on migrants’ experiences: the literature on their incorporation and transnational activities and investigates the linkages between migratory planning (and mobility) on both.

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