Nearshore Americas

Interactive: Charting LatAm’s Access to the USA

Entering the USA – whether as a visitor or as an immigrant – requires navigating a range of processes. With global migration patterns increasing and the nature of work requiring access to skilled workers from other geographical locations, the need to be able to easily move from one country to the next becomes even more vital. With this in mind, Nearshore Americas examines the ease with which citizens of Latin America can enter the USA in an interactive map that draws data from a range of sources.

The interactive below draws on data from Rissing and Castilla’s study as well as publicly available data from the US Department of State.

Move to each story point using the tabs at the top. Click on arrows in each story point and hover over or click on countries to interact with the data.

Approximately 28.5 million Latin American and Caribbean people “live outside the countries where they were born, 70 % of them in the United States, while a majority of the immigrant population of 7.6 million people originated from other countries in the region,” according to a 2014 study by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

A range of factors contribute to the ease with which citizens of any country can enter the USA. These range from issues of political stability to known overstay offenses and the requirements of free trade agreements such as the trilateral NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), which allows for business visitors in defined professions to move more easily between the three countries, Canada, the USA and Mexico.

Participation in the visa waiver program (VWP) — citizens of countries participating in the program do not need a visa to travel — also find it easier to visit the USA for periods shorter than 90 days. Of all the Latin American countries, only Chile is a member of the VWP. Argentina and Uruguay were participants, but their status was revoked.

A study by Prof Ben Rissing, Pearson Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Brown University, and Emilio J. Castilla, the NTU professor of management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, found that “despite current U.S. laws that forbid discrimination on the basis of nationality, labor certification approvals differ significantly depending on immigrants’ foreign citizenship, even after controlling for key factors.”

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The study is titled “House of Green Cards: Statistical or Preference-Based Inequality in the Employment of Foreign National,” and it lists Mexico as one of the countries that seem to have high refusal rates.

Bianca Wright

NSAM Managing Editor Bianca Wright has been published in a variety of magazines and online publications in the UK, the US and South Africa, including Global Telecoms Business,, SA Computer Magazine, M-Business,, Business Start-ups, Cosmopolitan and ComputorEdge. She holds a MPhil degree in Journalism from the University of Stellenbosch and a DPhil in Media Studies from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.

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