Highly Skilled and Educated Immigrants (HSE)

The Project “International Migration of Talent and Highly Skilled and Educated to the U.S.” began in 2010 under the direction of Douglas Massey and Magaly Sanchez R, with funding from the MacArthur Foundation and Princeton University. Known in abbreviated form as the Highly Skilled and Educated (HSE) Immigrants Project, it was organized as a sub-project of the Latin American Migration Project (LAMP). Its design included two separate data collection efforts: the application of the LAMP’s ethnosurvey questionnaire to a selected sample of Venezuelan immigrants and in-depth interviews conducted with a sizeable number of HSE immigrants from Venezuela and several other sending nations.

The first data collection effort used a snowball sampling strategy and applied a modified ethnosurvey schedule to Venezuelan immigrants located in areas of Venezuelan settlement throughout the United States. Although ethnosurveys usually originate in sending communities and only later expand to include interviews in destination areas, Venezuela’s present insecurity and political turmoil made sending-side surveys impossible. Although most interviews were carried out among Venezuelans living in the United States, a few were conducted with Venezuelan residents of other countries. Respondents were screened and selected on the basis of their high levels of skill and education.

After the ethnosurveys were completed, a second phase of in-depth interviewing began. Detailed personal interviews were not only conducted with many of the Venezuelans who completed the ethnosurvey, but also with other stakeholders in the process of HSE immigration, such as corporate CEOs, academic leaders, heads of think tanks, and directors of other NGOs. The qualitative data extracted from these interviews constitute an important source of information on patterns and processes of social mobility among HSE immigrants as well as their level of integration into the receiving society. Immigrants and stakeholders were also questioned about immigration policies and how they influenced the diversity of knowledge and the promotion of international mobility.

The in-depth interview guide sought immigrants’ views on the causes that motivated their departures, their perceived competitiveness in international markets and foreign workplaces, their relative integration into the host society, the degree of social and economic mobility they had experienced, and the extent to which their diverse cultural knowledge was valued and appreciated by others.

Public Use Data

Quantitative Data from the Ethnosurvey

The quantitative Venezuelan databases were drawn from the ethnosurveys and contain an initial file with general demographic and migratory information for each member of the household (PERS). More detailed information on the migratory experience of each migrant household head is included in a second file (MIG), while more general characteristics of the household, its members, and its holdings are found in a third file (HOUSE). Detailed labor and family life histories were compiled for each household head and spouse and these provide the basis for the two final files in which the units are person-years (LIFE and SPOUSE).

Please note that four appendices are provided: B - places, C - states, D - occupation and E -calculation of total international experience. There is no Appendix A for this study.

Qualitative Data from in-depth Interviews

Data from the in-depth interviews is currently being processed and coded and will be released in 2018.


Sanchez-R., Magaly and Douglas S. Massey, 2017. “The international migration of highly skilled and educated Venezuelans to the United States”, Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, June 16, 2017 (available here)

Sanchez-R., Magaly and Douglas S. Massey, 2014. “Migracion de Talento y Profesionales cualificados. El caso reciente de Inmigrantes Venezolanos a EEUU,” In R.D. Peralta, C. Lares Vollmer, and F. Kerdell Vegas, eds., Diáspora de Talento. Migracion y Educación en Venezuela: Análisis y Propuestas. Valencia, Venezuela: Fundación Talento Venezolano en el Exterior y Fundación para el Estudio de las Américas y del Caribe.

Sanchez-R., Magaly. 2011.“Venezuelan Immigrants in United States” In Ron Bayor, ed., Multicultural America. An Encyclopedia of the Newest Americans. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

Sanchez-R., Magaly. 2011. “Violencia-Inseguridad y la Emigración de Venezolanos.” Debates IESA. 16(3). Caracas, Venezuela.

Massey, Douglas S. 1987. "The Ethnosurvey in Theory and Practice." International Migration Review 21:1498-1522.

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