Expanding international education and economic globalisation have changed both the make-up of international labour migrants and the patterns of immigrant economic adaptation. Chinese student migrants' employment experiences and economic mobility in Japan suggest that an immigrant occupational niche has emerged among Japanese firms characterised by a set of corporate positions that specifically deal with businesses in China. These firms preferentially recruit Chinese student migrants to fill these positions. This paper discusses the mechanisms that shape such an immigrant occupational niche and the opportunities and constraints presented to Chinese students in Japan. It discusses the paradoxical effects the existence of an occupational niche has on Chinese students, and argues that it provides a pathway for immigrants to enter a previously inaccessible labour market. However, the existence of an immigrant occupational niche itself is a product of prevailing institutional, structural and cultural barriers in the host society.
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