IIR Colloquium: Waiting in Immigration Bureaucracy

Social Consequences of Uncertainty in U.S. Legal Permanent Residence Processing, 2007-2021

Wednesday, May 3, 2023 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM EDT
Online via Zoom Meeting

IIR Colloquium: Waiting in Immigration Bureaucracy

The Institute for Immigration Research welcomes you to join us for our final Colloquium of the Spring 2023 semester. Michelle Dromgold-Sermen, Assistant Director of the IIR, will present her research on "Waiting in Immigration Bureaucracy."

How does the process of waiting for U.S. legal permanent residence (e.g. a green card) shape visa-holders’ well-being, everyday lives, settlement trajectories, and longer-term integration? How do visa-holders make sense of and navigate this process of waiting? Research has identified costs of uncertainty and waiting within the enforcement, judicial, and legislative arms of federal immigration systems, particularly for vulnerable migrant groups; however, the consequences of prolonged waiting in federal immigration systems' service branches are less well understood. Drawing on computational and qualitative analysis of migrant experiences posted on an online immigration forum between 2007 and 2021, this talk will explore the experiences of temporary visa-holders in the United States waiting for legal permanent residence processing within U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as the service arm of the U.S. immigration bureaucracy. Waiting in immigration bureaucracy for legal permanent residence is a multidimensional and dynamic process, and migrants adopt proactive, resigned, and inattentive approaches to navigate and cope while waiting. They also incur huge opportunity costs, including stalled employment, life course adjustments, and altered family settlement decisions.

Michelle Dromgold-Sermen joined the IIR as Assistant Director in February 2023. Her areas of expertise include U.S. immigration law and policy, legality and membership, refugee resettlement, and global migration management. Her research is interdisciplinary and adopts multiple methods including computational, qualitative, and quantitative analysis to explore diverse questions about the impacts of migration systems and administration for the experiences of migrants and citizens. In her current research, she analyzes online immigration forum posts to examine the consequences of uncertain policymaking and waiting for visa-holders in the United States who are navigating the adjustment of status process to become legal permanent residents. She has spent extensive time researching and working with migrant and refugee populations in Germany, Türkiye, and the United States. 

IIR Colloquium Waiting in Bureaucracy

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