On the 25th Anniversary of the Creation of the H-1B Visa, a New Digital Exhibit Launches

Later today the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center will be launching the premiere of their new exhibition, H-1B, to mark the upcoming anniversary of the creation of the H1-B Visa through the Immigration Act of 1990. The SmithsonianAPA is uniquely positioned as a Smithsonian initiative and digital exhibition space:

Established in 1997 as an initiative critical to the mission of the Smithsonian, our vision is to enrich the appreciation of America’s Asian Pacific heritage and empower Asian Pacific American communities in their sense of inclusion within the national culture. – from the SmithsonianAPA’s website

We are pleased to share more about this new exhibit here and encourage you to head over to the SmithsonianAPA’s site to view the exhibition preview. – Aletheia



From the exhibit H-1B.”Passport-Size Portraits” by Arjun Rihan. Courtesy of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.

The contemporary immigration reform debate in the United States often boils down the implications for the economy, social welfare systems and American identity into soundbytes.  Two things often get buried:  our nation’s continuous history of immigration and the longitudinal stories of migrants who’ve come here to find and build their own American dreams, some of which are decades – or even generations – in the making.

The employment-based visa, H-1B, permits non-U.S. citizens with exceptional skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to work on a temporary basis. H-1B is of particular relevance to immigrants from India. Many were trained in technical schools that opened throughout India following its Independence in 1947. Today, approximately one third of H-1B visas annually are issued to South Asian workers.

Voyage by Venus Sanghvi

From the exhibit H1-B. “Voyage” by Venus Sanghvi. Courtesy of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Immigration Act of 1990 and the H-1B visa created by the Act, the Smithsonian’s Asian Pacific American Center recently launched a digital exhibition, “H-1B.” In this exhibition, 17 South Asian and Asian American artists explore America’s immigration story through the H-1B visa. The artists use the H-1B visa as visual inspiration to comment on their immigration journeys. Their works depict the range of emotions—anxiety, dignity, isolation and opportunity—associated with this life-changing immigration category.

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