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Foreign farm worker, New York

A foreign worker is a person who works in a country other than the one of which he or she is a citizen. The term migrant worker as discussed in the migrant worker page is used in a particular UN resolution as a synonym for "foreign worker". In nations that have yet to ratify this resolution such as the United States the term migrant worker is not synonymous with foreign worker.

Types of foreign workers in the United States[edit | edit source]

The term foreign worker refers to those who fall the reason it was into two specific cases.

Green card workers are individuals who have requested and received legal permanent residence in the United States and who intend to work in the United States on a permanent basis.

Guest workers are persons who typically travel (either legally or illegally) to a country with much more preferred job prospects than the one in which they currently reside. These "workers" temporarily reside in the country in which they work and will often send most or all wages earned, back to their country of origin.

Guest workers internationally[edit | edit source]

Sometimes, a host country sets up a program in order to invite guest workers, as did the Federal Republic of Germany from 1955 until 1973, when over one million guest workers (German: Gastarbeiter) arrived, mostly from Italy, Spain and Turkey.

Current estimates on the total number of international foreign workers stand at about 25 million [How to reference and link to summary or text], with a comparable number of dependents accompanying them. An estimated 14 million foreign workers live in the United States, which draws most of its immigrants from Mexico, including 4 or 5 million undocumented workers. It is estimated that around 5 million foreign workers live in Northwestern Europe, half a million in Japan, and around 5 million in Saudi Arabia.

The term can refer to professional experts, blue collar workers, language teachers, as well as entertainers.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Controversy[edit | edit source]

Although there have been disagreements over immigration in the broader sense (the current system facilitated with green cards). Most controversy in the United States since 1990 has been in regard to "guest workers" both legal and illegal.

In recent years in the United States, there has been much controversy over whether H-1B visas (a particular instance of guest worker), intended to bring highly skilled workers to fill gaps in the domestic labor pool, are instead being used to bring in skilled, but otherwise unexceptional, economic migrants as cheap labor to fill jobs that could readily be filled domestically. There is much controversy over pending legislation that would allow unskilled labor to enter the country for this same reason.

Foreign Students coming into the USA are also migrant workers. They may face large salary differences till the obtention of their green card as their Visa is only company specific. Moreover, they are barred from many high profile jobs where Citizenship is a prerequisite.

Again, specific to the H-1B visas, Third World countries such as India, Pakistan, and the Philippines have long experienced a brain drain of highly skilled workers to countries like the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Japan, Germany, and Australia. While the absolute number of such émigrés are not large, the economic implications of such very skilled workers are significant.

Sometimes, citizens of countries with heavily urbanized areas have migrated to more agrarian countries in order to find jobs as farmers and such. For more discussion on this see Migrant workers.

In certain less tolerant nations, foreign workers may be abused and treated as second-class citizens by the governments and/or lack of unions to assert worker rights. For instance, in many Asian nations, it is not uncommon for employers to withhold passports from their employees, thus preventing the foreign worker from returning home. In conjunction with the withholding of salaries, it is meant to put the foreign workers in very difficult situation (particularly because the laws of these countries are typically not sympathetic to foreigners in practice). In the UK organisations such as Kalayaan protect the rights of UK migrant domestic workers.

See also[edit | edit source]

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