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“Can Reforming Immigration Policy Lessen Income Disparity among Chicago’s Indian Population?”

Author: ​Nimisha Sharma

Department: UIC Institute for Policy & Civic Engagement

Advisor: Dr. Joseph K. Hoereth, IPCE


South Asians have been trapped under the notion of being a “model minority” whose voices go unheard. The immigration policy and its adverse outcomes go highly unnoticed, which is an issue as it creates a vast income disparity among the high and low skilled workers. The scope of this research is to shed light on how the reformation of immigration policy, specifically related to its visa process, can help in creating equitable opportunities for Chicago's Indian population. This literature review uses a critical race lens to explore research on immigration policy to address more relevant issues of how US policies racialize Indian communities. In comparing the allowance of an EB-3 visa (for low skill/unskilled workers) and an H-1B visa (for high-skilled workers), the study examines various government-based census tract demographic data of Indian immigrants in Chicago’s neighborhoods. The E1 and E2 subclasses of visas that allow foreigners to start a business are not available to Indians because of the E-2 treaty. U.S. immigration policy has led to more racialized Indian communities, also factoring in the “feeling of community” and the location of their jobs. There have been specific recommendations of increasing the salary requirement for getting an H-1B visa which is already at $60,000. As a result, there is a high level of mean income but a low level of per capita income. Hence to lessen the income disparity, the visa process should be made less expensive and more efficient, which can help more people avoid any errors related to the application of a visa. The immigration policy should be reviewed to lower the salary requirement for getting an H-1 B visa. More occupations should be allowed to open up the EB-3 visa to welcome Indian immigrants. Primarily the treaty should be reviewed to enable more entrepreneurs in the U.S.A.

Keywords: immigration policy, immigration process, immigrants, Indian immigrants living in Chicago, India foreign relations with the U.S.A, income, disparity, work, high skilled immigration, low skilled immigration, history of Indian immigrants, neighborhoods with Chicago’s high Indian population, Devon Avenue, self-employed