Date of Award


Document Type

Distinction Paper

Degree Name





Dr. Danielle Docka-Filipek

First Committee Member

Dr. Heidi Ballard

Second Committee Member

Dr. Jonathan DeCoster


Indian Immigration, Family, Visa, South Asian, Immigration Policy, Family

Subject Categories

Community-Based Research | Family, Life Course, and Society | Gender and Sexuality | Politics and Social Change | Race and Ethnicity | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Sociology of Culture


The purpose of this study is to consider how Indian immigrant families, who come from cultures that are shaped around culturally distinct forms of family, navigate and adapt to U.S. culture and institutions that are structured based on the idealized American family form. The main research questions being considered are: How is family defined by immigration policies? How are Indian immigrant families affected by these policies? An ethnographic methodological approach, including participant observation and semi-structured interviews, is used to gather data in the Columbus metro area in order to address the above questions. Observations and semi-structured interviews were completed with local Indian immigrants, as well as with service providers and community leaders who serve the Indian immigrant population . The data collected through observations and interviews is then compared to current research findings in the existing literature on immigration, gender, and family. Findings suggest that U.S. immigration policy both hinders and fosters the acculturation process of immigrants by restricting which family members can receive a visa and by utilizing a visa sponsorship system that encourages family connections. Findings also suggest intergenerational conflict within Indian families as a result of various agents of socialization. Finally, findings point to the role that ethnic enclaves play as coping mechanisms for Indian immigrant families as they deal with the stresses of immigration. Future recommendations include welcome support groups within local school and recreational services for immigrant parents, facilitated by non-immigrant citizens, as well as an increased availability of culturally consistent mainstream social services for immigrant families. Suggestions for future research include studies of other U.S. cities and the “match/mismatch” of available services and immigrant needs.