More on the Book

The OpportunityTrap at the  NYU Press Booth, ASA 2022. 

First book talk at UIC, Sociology, Oct 2022

Our books

Chulbul baby checking out book baby

With Santanu Dutta (Cover artist)

With my amazing writing group

Book Awards: 

Honorable Mention, 2024 Social Science Category Book Awards, given by the Association for Asian American Studies

WINNER, 2023 Asia, and Asian America Section Best Book Award, awarded by the American Sociological Association

Honorable Mention, 2022 Betty and McClung Lee Book Award, given by the Association for Humanist Sociology

Please get in touch for Book Talks: pallavi.banerjee (at)

Twitter #: #TheOpportunityTrap - happy to do Twitter chats or zoom chats with students in your class if you adopt the book. 


Powerful and vivid, The Opportunity Trap tells us of the pains wrought by legal dependency on temporary visa workers and their spouses. Both are suspended and indentured by law. This gender comparative study of hi-tech workers and nurses is a must read as it advances our understanding of immigration, the family, and law in the United States.

~Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, author of Unfree: Migrant Domestic Work in Arab States

Through her insightful analyses of how dependent visas reflect a gendered and racialized regime that controls immigrant families, Banerjee brilliantly identifies the many contradictions faced by Indian migrant workers and their families in the U.S. The Opportunity Trap beautifully captures how the visa regime devalues and makes invisible those on dependent visas, reworks gender relations and parenting within the household, while also making families excessively beholden to migrant workers' employers. This is an important book that should be widely read.

 ~Joya Misra, co-author of Walking Mannequins: How Race and Gender Inequalities Shape Retail Clothing Work


"Pallavi Banerjee’s The Opportunity Trap offers a fascinating window into the intimate relationship between migration visas and the work/family lives of skilled migrants and their spousal dependents." ~Social Forces

"The Opportunity Trap presents a meticulous sketch of the poignant and constrained lives of high-skilled Indian migrants and their families in the United States. Banerjee skillfully illustrates how forced dependency intersects with the social, cultural, and economic perceptions of masculinity. [The Opportunity Trap] opens several new directions for policymakers, scholars, and activists working on gender, labor, and migration." ~ Gender & Society

"Coherent and persuasive. The Opportunity Trap contributes heavily to the scholarship of intersectionality entailing gender, race, ethnicity, class, immigration, and work, as well as to the study of work and family issues. I highly recommend this book for any undergraduate or graduate course on gender or work, or anyone interested in teaching immigration and work from an intersectional perspective." ~ Work and Occupations

"A thoughtful, compassionate, and richly detailed study of the lived experiences of racialized, high-skilled migrant families in the United States. Banerjee vividly describes everyday people’s struggles and failures to affirm their personal dignity and build a good life under such conditions. Rigorous, heartfelt, and intersectional, The Opportunity Trap is an important contribution." ~ Labour / Le Travail

"Banerjee brings the reader into the private lives of these families as they negotiate belonging in a country that both constrains and enables their upward mobility and happiness... Employers, management, undergraduate students, or populations impacted by the visa regime would benefit from reading Banerjee’s book. This book would be a great addition to gender and migration studies courses." ~ Canadian Ethnic Studies

"The Opportunity Trap delivers the kind of multi-scalar analysis that development scholars treasure. In the tradition of feminist global ethnography, Banerjee interrogates the making of the self, the worker, the nation and the institutions that knit them together... This book will be invaluable for undergraduate courses on globalization, gender, families, immigration and development in Asia." ~ The Journal of Development Studies

"The Opportunity Trap offers a nuanced understanding of the outdated and unequal visa system in the US. Banerjee's research centers the people who struggle through the visa regime, making the majority of the book accessible to general audiences. The book’s rich theoretical contributions are ideal for immigration and gender studies courses, and Banerjee’s practical recommendations to reform visa laws makes The Opportunity Trap a digestible and crucial reading for visa policymakers, activists, and other political workers." ~Journal of Asian American Studies

"Taken together, the focus on gender and its interactions with other intersectional aspects of Indian migrant life in the United States—along with the emphasis on the experiences of dependent visa-holding spouses—makes The Opportunity Trap a valuable contribution to the field of migration studies…this is a book I strongly recommend to scholars working on migration, South Asian diasporas, and related fields." ~Industrial and Labor Relations Review

"In addition to introducing a new intersectional parenting approach, Banerjee invites family scholars to further investigate a powerful theme: unpacking the privileges that stem from pre-migration class location of families in the midst of oppressive conditions fueled by the U.S. visa regime." ~Journal of Family Studies 

Click to Order (30% off with BANERJEE30 at NYU Press)

Click to Order at Powell's Books (online and in the bookstore - buy from independent bookstores please) 

Invited Book Talks:


“The impossible ideals placed on women in a neoliberal heteropatriarchy with an internalized rhetoric of choice and engrained gendered scripts of motherhood, to be perfect mothers and perfect paid worker, I contend, make the lives of H-4 women even more oppressive.” - Pallavi Banerjee, in The Opportunity Trap.