American Culture Studies Ph.D. Dissertations


Sojourners in the Country of Freedom and Opportunity: The Experiences of Vietnamese Women with Non-Immigrant Dependent Spouse Visas in the United States

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


American Culture Studies

First Advisor

Alberto González (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Sudershan K. Jetley (Other)

Third Advisor

Sandra L. Faulkner (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Jolie A. Sheffer (Committee Member)


This dissertation examines how the U.S. visa regime interacted with various aspects of identity such as race, class, gender, and nationality to influence the experiences of Vietnamese women holding nonimmigrant spousal visas in the U.S. Through in-depth interviews with twenty Vietnamese women coming to the U.S. as spouses of temporary skilled migrants, my study reveals the racial, class, and gender discrimination against post-1990 Vietnamese temporary skilled migrants and their spouses in both U.S. immigration laws and daily practices. In the dissertation, I clarify how the U.S. gendered and racialized visa regime and the permeation of colonialist attitude in American society relegated many Vietnamese accompanying women to the domestic sphere. I also discuss the negative impacts of Vietnamese accompanying women's housewifization on their psyches, familial relationships, and social integration. Although my study emphasizes the personal agency of Vietnamese accompanying spouses who found different ways to navigate changes in their gender roles, to solve their financial problems, and to create social bonds in the U.S., my study calls for a comprehensive reform in immigration policy toward temporary skilled migrants from the Global South and their accompanying spouses who are currently "wanted but not welcome" immigrants in the U.S. My study makes valuable contributions to various fields of critical studies such as women's and gender studies, critical race studies, and postcolonial studies.