One might argue that there were in fact two emigrations, largely separate and distinct. There was the arrival and settlement of thousands of Russians who could claim Jewish ancestry. They came to begin a new life, to pursue prosperity and freedom for themselves and their families. They were true immigrants, in the sense that they had left the Soviet Union forever, with little thought of ever returning. Most settled with the help of Jewish relief organizations in and around major metropolitan areas in the Untied States. The largest group settled in the New York area, and many of those in the Brighton Beach area of Brooklyn. This group of immigrants was characterized by a generally high level of education and literacy. Even as they struggled with language and a search for employment equal to their professional qualifications, their children began integrating into the melting pot of American society.
There was a second group of intellectuals, primarily writers or human rights advocates, some expelled from the Soviet Union, such as Joseph Brodsky, Valery Chalidze (Валерий Чалидзе) and Alexander Solzhenitsyn (Александр Солженицын). Scholars who have focused on this group date the real beginning to 1966 with the departure of Valery Tarsis (Валерий Тарсис). Others were permitted to leave because of their Jewish heritage. Many of these writers settled in France, Germany, Great Britain, Israel or Switzerland where opportunities for publishing presented themselves. A significant group of writers settled in America, where they continued to write almost exclusively in Russian for their countrymen, primarily behind the borders of the Soviet Union, but also for those in the West. This group as a whole never embraced the West or its culture, dreamed and hoped for a return of themselves or their works to their native Russia, and with time those who survived did indeed return.
In both cases, this new "Third Wave" found little in common with earlier emigrations. Products of the Soviet Union, its systems of education, social services and employment, atheistic or Jewish as opposed to Russian Orthodox, they represented for earlier generations, the so-called First and Second waves, a completely different set of values. Even linguistically they were distinct because of this Sovietness from earlier Russians in America.
One might compare the aspirations of the writers of the Third Wave with those of the First Wave described by Ivan Bunin (Иван Бунин) in his speech on "The Mission of the Russian Emigration." Unlike earlier Russian emigres who believed in the words of Merezhkovsky (Мережковский) that they had been sent "не в изгнании, а в послании" [not in exile, but on a mission], this Third Wave had few illusions, and like Western scholars failed to foresee how soon and how rapidly the Soviet Empire would crumble.