New-generation Skilled Migration Policies and the Changing Fabric of Membership: Talent as Output and the Headhunting State – IMC-RP 2016/4


That citizenship is getting lighter is not a new idea. How this is occurring and what its implications are for the fabric of communities is however a question with several facets. This article explores one of these facets. It questions how ‘new generation’ skilled migration policies, with which several states around the globe are experimenting, contribute to altering the role of citizenship and immigration law in identifying the members of a polity. New-generation skilled migration policies facilitate the entry, and in some cases the naturalisation, of high net-worth individuals and innovative entrepreneurs. The article evidences two distinguishing features of these schemes: legal requirements for the entry of these new-generation skilled migrants which focus on talent as their ‘output’; and the state’s role in administering immigration and citizenship law becoming, in the context of these policies, that of a headhunter. Through headhunting for migrants who promise an output, states channel the regulation of citizenship and immigration along a novel trajectory parallel but distinct from traditional ones. A dual-track citizenship model emerges as a result: a heavy, culturalised citizenship for ‘traditional’ migrants, and a thin, cosmopolitan one for the new-generation skilled migrants. The article ultimately argues that these transformations prompt a rethink of citizenship as a web of rights and duties
binding different classes of stakeholders and mediated by the state, rather than as a binary relation between individuals and the state.

Francesca Strumia, Lecturer in Law,
University of Sheffield
Email:[email protected]

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