High Tech Housewives at UMBC

On December 5, I had the great pleasure of being part of the Dresher Center for the Humanities Fall 2018 Humanities Forum speaker series. The event had a great turn out and I presented on High-Tech Housewives and my new research.

Feature in UMBC News

Check out this write up about my upcoming book talk at UMBC!

Amy Bhatt shines light on gender and immigration policy in new book High-Tech Housewives

Policy & Society 10:30 am

“I am interested in the human face of policy,” says UMBC’s Amy Bhatt. “I want to share the personal narratives of immigrants few people hear about—highly skilled workers—and help us understand their experience as they face questions of citizenship, belonging, and community.”

Bhatt, an associate professor of gender and women’s studies, and affiliate associate professor in the language, literacy, and culture, and Asian studies programs, has made headlines nationwide by providing research-based expertise on contemporary U.S. immigration policy. She’s bringing the conversation to UMBC through a Humanities Forum talk on her new book, High-Tech Housewives: Indian IT Workers, Gendered Labor, and Transmigration, on Wednesday, December 5, 2018, 4 – 5:30 p.m., in the Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery.

“Now more than ever, Professor Bhatt’s research is crucial in helping all of us understand the everyday impact of high-skilled immigration,” shares Jessica Berman, professor of English and director of the Dresher Center for the Humanities, which organizes the Humanities Forum. “Thriving academic research communities are enriched by the knowledge and expertise highly-skilled international faculty, staff, and students bring and share.”

H-1B and H-4 visa programs allow skilled workers from South Asian countries to travel with their families to the U.S. to fill needed temporary positions in corporations, hospitals, and universities. Bhatt explains, “U.S. consumers depend on the global flow of goods and services in the tech, healthcare, and higher education sectors.” She notes, “In a global high-tech economy it is important to acknowledge the value that immigrants bring to our lives and how they are being threatened by immigration policy.”

Bhatt’s work focuses on gender as an important and understudied factor at the intersection of immigration law and global economy. She notes that 85 percent of H-1B visa holders are men. Their spouses can join them in the U.S. under the H-4 visa program, but, even if those spouses are themselves highly skilled, they are unable to apply their expertise in the paid workforce. Instead, they often become “high-tech housewives” due to the constraints of immigration law, rather than choice.

“People tend to think about H-1B visa issues as problems that only affect men,” failing to consider the often highly skilled spouses who come with them to the U.S.,” says Bhatt.

“Women’s abilities to migrate—flexibility in foregoing their own careers at times, and work to manage family demands, cultural transmission, connection to home country, and building local relationships—allow their spouses to take highly skilled jobs in the United States,” explains Bhatt. Her research explores how the current visa system not only limits the employment of highly skilled women, but also impacts their identities and day-to-day experiences in other significant ways.

In addition to her recent book, Amy Bhatt has recently published three widely read articles on U.S. and international policy issues and gender through The Conversation, including “Why Trump’s plan to forbid spouses of H-1B visa holders to work is a bad idea.” In that article, Bhatt writes, “H-4 women face a triple burden if they are able to start working again, particularly in technology: race, gender and long gaps in their resumes.”

Whether sharing her work through academic publications or news media like the Seattle Times, Bhatt’s overall message is the same.

“It is an urgent call for all of to pay attention,” she says, “to changes in immigration trends, globalization, how businesses are thinking about labour pools, and how we think of gender and women in the family in these economic and political processes.”

Quoted in KQED Santa Clara Public Radio story

Check out this piece from KQED Santa Clara County this morning on the H-4 EAD issue, which features a nice quote from High-Tech Housewives!

Spouses of H-1B Visa Holders Could Soon Lose the Right to Work in the U.S.

“Leaving aside her concerns as a mother, what happens if Bhai is forced to sit out during her most productive professional years? “H-4 women face a triple burden if they are able to start working again, particularly in technology: race, gender and long gaps in their resumes,” writes associate professor Amy Bhatt at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, author of “High-Tech Housewives: Indian IT Workers, Gendered Labor, and Transmigration.”

Global Effects of High-Skilled Immigration

My article for AsiaGlobal Online, a digital journal published by the Asia Global Institute (AGI) at The University of Hong Kong, was published today!

Check out the full article here: Global Effects of High-Skilled Migration

“The free flow of labor across national borders has been one of the defining facets of globalization. In recent years, concerns over the effects of increased migration on domestic workforces have led political leaders to consider tightening borders, dramatically altering patterns of human movement. In Asia, this could reverse the brain drain….”

Reflections on India’s LGBTQ Rights Ruling in The Conversation

Check out my piece in The Conversation about India’s historic ruling in favor of LGBTQ rights!

From India’s sodomy ban, now ruled illegal, was a British colonial legacy:

“The Indian Supreme Court has legalized homosexuality, overturning a 157-year ban on consensual gay sex.

In a nearly 500-page unanimous decision issued on Sept. 6, India’s highest court affirmed that “whenever the constitutional courts come across a situation of transgression or dereliction in the sphere of fundamental rights which are also the basic human rights of a section, howsoever small part of the society, then it is for the constitutional courts to ensure that constitutional morality prevails over social morality.”

Gay rights advocates worldwide celebrated the legal victory, which came after nearly a decade of contentious court battles against a British colonial law criminalizing homosexual acts….”