Experiences of Latin Americans seeking professional jobs in Greater Vancouver

Date created: 
Skilled immigrants
Latin American skilled immigrants
Canadian immigration policy
Multiple case study
Settlement issues
Canadian higher education

Canada is often acknowledged as one of the most welcoming countries for immigrants around the world. However, literature reveals that Canadian skilled immigrants, particularly those from Latin America, are often unemployed, underemployed, and earn significantly less than their Canadian-born counterparts. This dissertation examines the experiences of Latin American Skilled Immigrants (LSIs) in Metro Vancouver, including: the factors that prompt them to migrate; their experiences with the Canadian immigration system; and their transition into the new social space. I critically deconstruct dominant economic approaches to immigration and challenge human capital explanations of the phenomena. By utilizing a multiple case study research design, I conducted in-depth interviews with nine LSIs and coauthored their narratives. Filtered through the lenses of Bourdieu's theory of social reproduction, Rizvi’s ideas regarding the neoliberal imaginary, and Bauman’s concepts of the stranger’s aporia, I found that migration appears as a strategy of social reproduction in which participants aim to maintain or enhance their position in the social space. Furthermore, the neoliberal imaginary in conjunction with the participants’ habitus largely shaped their perception of what moving in the social space looks like and how it is achieved. With respect to their transition into Canada, I found that participants who entered with prearranged jobs (WPJ) had more positive experiences settling and adapting than those who entered without prearranged jobs (WOPJ). Participants WOPJ faced more onerous immigration processes and upon arrival, they encountered a contradictory society that intensely seeks to select the best and brightest, but does little to facilitate their integration and in some cases is even obstructive and discriminatory. Through the same theoretical framework, I realized that settling into the community and transitioning into the labour market did not solely depend on the participants’ intrinsic human capital, but also on a complex series of internal contradictions and relations of power created by the neoliberal imaginary. Acknowledging this complexity may lead to a more comprehensive and unprejudiced construction of the Canadian immigration system. This would allow more room to discuss and address the ethical and moral challenges that many immigration stakeholders face, particularly the higher education system in the era of academic neoliberalism.

Document type: 
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes. Copyright remains with the author.
Kumari Beck
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ed.D.