From a trickle to a flood, 2.5 million Indians make US their home

The report, Emigration, Immigration, and Diaspora Relations in India, released on Friday by the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, DC also shows that at 2.5 million, the community's size in the US is nearly double of that in the UK and more than 2.5 times as large as the one in Canada.

Of almost 4,00,000 Overseas Citizenship of India cards issued by the Indian government as of March 2009, 43 percent came through Indian consulates in the US and 13 percent in the UK, says the report by author Daniel Naujoks, a scholar based in New Delhi.

The report comprehensively details the country's history of emigration and immigration and discusses current trends such as remittances, how the Indian IT industry may be wooing home highly skilled Indian expatriates, and the main destinations for the Indian diaspora.
 
According to the report, substantial Indian migration to Northern America started only in the late 1960s. Both in the US and Canada, major changes in immigration policy affected immigration flows generally, and Indian immigration specifically.

According to the US Department of Homeland Security, from 1986 to 2005, the annual total influx of Indian immigrants more than tripled from 27,000 to 85,000, while the share in total immigration flows rose from 4.4 to 7.4 percent.

Indian citizens accounted for 5.7 percent of all persons obtaining lawful permanent resident status in 2008. Overall, the Indian foreign born are highly skilled: The US Census Bureau's 2008 American Community Survey found that 74.1 percent held at least a bachelor's degree, and 68.9 percent reported working in management, professional, and related occupations.

The total size of the Indian community, meaning those born in India, the foreign born of Indian ethnicity, and the US-born children of Indian immigrants, surpassed 2.5 million in 2007.

India's domination of computer-trained temporary workers is mainly attributed to the large supply pool in India and to the fact that prior waves of Indian IT workers had successfully established a significant presence in that industry, the report says.

The success of Indian IT professionals in the US has created trust in the country's intellectual abilities abroad, says the report. It has been a major factor in branding India as a source of well-educated and hard-working professionals, rather than a poverty-ridden country of snake charmers.

This new "India brand" explains several countries' increased interest in recruiting Indian graduates and professionals. It also contributes to the willingness of US and other companies to collaborate with and outsource to Indian companies.

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