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Immigrant stereotypes and differential screening

Jason R. Lambert (College of Business, Texas Woman’s University, Denton, Texas, USA)
Ekundayo Y. Akinlade (Department of Economics, Business, and Finance, Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, Illinois, USA)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 13 November 2019

Issue publication date: 17 April 2020




There has been an increasing number of allegations of discrimination toward US employees and anecdotal indications of immigrant employee exploitation in the information technology sector. The purpose of this paper is to investigate if applicants’ work visa status causes native-born applicants to be treated differentially (less favorably) than foreign-born applicants.


A correspondence study design is used to observe differential screening processes by measuring the frequency of favorable job application responses received by foreign-born applicants compared to equally skilled native-born applicants.


Results from the study suggest that fictitious Asian foreign-born applicants who demonstrate the need for H-1B work visa sponsorship for employment receive significantly more favorable e-mail responses to job ads than US native-born applicants. Moreover, white native-born applicants are approximately 23 percent less likely than Asian foreign-born applicants to receive a request for an interview.

Research limitations/implications

Because of the chosen method, the research results may lack generalizability. The hypotheses should be tested further by targeting more geographical locations, a variety of industries and using qualitative methods in future research.

Practical implications

The paper includes implications for hiring managers who wish to reduce their liability for employment discrimination and foreign-born job seekers wishing to manage their expectations of the recruitment process.


This paper fulfills an identified need to empirically study how the work visa status of job seekers affects early recruitment as increasingly more anecdotal evidence of immigrant exploitation and discrimination in the technology sector is reported.



The authors would like to thank graduate assistant Merveille IlungaASul, and undergraduate assistants Melton Brown and Ashley Willis for their arduous assistance with matching, tracking and coding e-mail responses.


Lambert, J.R. and Akinlade, E.Y. (2020), "Immigrant stereotypes and differential screening", Personnel Review, Vol. 49 No. 4, pp. 921-938.



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