Welcome to Work? Legal Migration Pathways for Low-Skilled Workers

Report Author: 
Kathleen Newland & Andrea Riester
Original Date of Publication: 
January, 2018

This brief explores the international migration opportunities available to low-skilled workers, the constraints on their movement and the development impacts of these patterns. Permanent admissions programs for low-skilled labor are rare. However, a number of trends in Western industrialized countries have combined to create high demand for low-skilled workers to fill temporary and longer-term jobs. Some of this demand may be met indirectly, through family reunification or humanitarian admissions, but currently most programs for the admission of low-skilled workers are temporary programs. These are problematic, as they offer few rights and protections for migrants. Restrictions on the immigration of low-skilled workers have resulted in these jobs being often filled by unauthorized immigrants. Providing legal migration channels for low-skilled workers is a focus of a number of international discussions, including, for example, the Global Compact for Migration, which U.N. member states have agreed to negotiate by the end of 2018. The brief makes a number of recommendations for policymakers interested in creating or expanding low-skilled labor programs, including improving coordination between countries of origin and destination and building careful evaluation into program design. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates)

Download now or view online


Newland, K., & Riester, A. (2018). Welcome to Work? Legal Migration Pathways for Low-Skilled Workers (Policy Brief) (p. 17). Washington, D.C.: Migration Policy Institute. Retrieved from https://www.migrationpolicy.org/research/welcome-work-legal-migration-pathways-low-skilled-workers

Source Organization: 
Migration Policy Institute