A gender perspective has been incorporated in transnational migration studies over the last two decades in Spain. According to feminist inquiry, research has focused mainly on four areas: transnational maternities, transformation in global care regimes, multiple discrimination experiences and change in gender relations by means of migration. In this paper, we suggest that there is a fifth area that has been neglected: one that studies the ways in which governmentality practices, performed within service provision aimed at migrant populations, are enacted in host societies. We argue that mechanisms of categorisation developed in service provision in Spain contribute to the construction of the category of "Third World Women". A set of discourses and practices that are based on gender and cultural assignation related with stereotyped understandings of migrated women in host societies, situating them as suitable workers for current care regimes within these societies. These mechanisms have an important impact on life situations experienced by many migrated women as they are integrated into a low waged and undervalued work market. Further developments must be made in this last area of inquiry from a critical standpoint, in order to avoid the reproduction of discriminatory practices within institutional intervention settings. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.