Frequently Requested Statistics on Immigrants and Immigration in the United States
The immigrant population in 2011 — estimated at 40.4 million — is a historical numeric high for the country, and it is also the largest in the world. About 20 percent of all international migrants reside in the United States, which accounts for less than 5 percent of the world's population.
This article provides some of the most frequently sought-after current and historical facts and figures about immigrants and immigration in the United States. It answers such questions as:
Which countries are the main sources for immigration to the United States? How many immigrants enter each year? How many are already in the United States? How many became US citizens last year? How many children live with immigrant parents? How many unauthorized immigrants are in the United States? Do immigrants have health insurance? How many immigrants live in poverty? How many unauthorized youth received temporary reprieve from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) process?
This article brings together resources from the Migration Policy Institute (MPI); the US Census Bureau's 2011 American Community Survey (ACS) and 2000 decennial census; the US Departments of Homeland Security and State; the Pew Hispanic Center; Mexico's National Population Council (CONAPO); and Mexico's National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI).
Current and Historical Numbers and Shares
According to the most recently available data, how many immigrants are in the United States?
Between 2010 and 2011, the foreign-born population increased by 422,000, or 1 percent. This increase is lower than year-to-year changes in the first half of the 2000s.
What are the historical numbers and shares of immigrants in the United States?
Between 1860 and 1920, immigrants as a percentage of the total population fluctuated between 13 and 15 percent, peaking at nearly 15 percent in 1890 mainly due to European immigration. By 1930, immigrants' share of the US population had dropped to less than 12 percent (14.2 million).
The share of foreign born in the US population continued to decline between the 1930s and 1970s, reaching a record low of approximately 5 percent in 1970 (9.6 million). However, since 1970, the percentage has increased rapidly, mainly due to large-scale immigration from Latin America and Asia.
The foreign born represented 6 percent (14.1 million) of the total US population in 1980. By 1990, their share had risen to 8 percent (19.8 million), and by the 2000 census they comprised 11 percent (31.1 million) of the total US population. In 2011, immigrants comprised 13 percent (40.4 million) of the total US population.
How do the top source countries with the largest share of immigrants compare to those 50 years ago?
The predominance of immigrants from Latin American and Asian countries in the late 20th and early 21st centuries starkly contrasts with the trend seen in 1960 when immigrants tended to be from European countries. Italian-born immigrants made up 13 percent of all foreign born in 1960, followed by those born in Germany and Canada (accounting for about 10 percent each). In 1960s no single country accounted for more than 15 percent of the total immigrant population.
Demographic, Educational, and Linguistic Characteristics
Note: Some percentages do not add up to 100 due to rounding.
Are there equal shares of men and women in the US immigrant population?
What is the age distribution of the immigrant population?
Overall, the immigrant population in 2011 was older than the US-born population: The median age of immigrants was 42.1 years, compared to 35.9 years among the native born.
How many immigrants have entered the United States since 2000?
How many immigrants are naturalized US citizens?
Of the 18.1 million naturalized citizens in 2011, 47 percent have naturalized since 2000, 33 percent between 1985 and 1999, and 20 percent prior to 1985.
What is the racial composition of the immigrant population?
How many Hispanics are immigrants?
Which languages are the most frequently spoken at home by the US population?
Note: *Refers to the 291.5 million people ages 5 and older who resided in the United States at the time of the survey.
What is the size of the Limited English Proficient (LEP) population?
Note: The term "Limited English Proficient" refers to any person ages 5 and older who reported speaking English "not at all," "not well," or "well" on their survey questionnaire. Individuals who reported speaking only English or speaking English "very well" are considered proficient in English.
What percentage of the foreign born are LEP?
Note: The term "Limited English Proficient" refers to any person ages 5 and older who reported speaking English "not at all," "not well," or "well" on their survey questionnaire. Individuals who reported speaking only English or speaking English "very well" are considered proficient in English.
What percentage of the adult foreign-born population is college educated?
How many Mexican immigrants are in the United States?
In which US states do the Mexican born live?
In 2011, the foreign born from Mexico accounted for over half of the immigrant population in New Mexico (71 percent), Texas (60 percent), Arizona (59 percent), Idaho (55 percent), and Wyoming (53 percent). By contrast, Mexican-born individuals accounted for 2 percent or less of the immigrant population in Hawaii (2 percent), Massachusetts (1 percent), and Maine (1 percent).
How many Mexican-born workers are in the US labor force?
How has the emigration rate from Mexico changed over time?
The immigration rate to Mexico (i.e., the number of people who move to Mexico from abroad, who are overwhelmingly return migrants) has entered a moderate decline, moving from 3.7 per 1,000 in fall 2008, to 2.1 per 1,000 in fall 2012.
Note: ENOE asks Mexican households to enumerate any members of the household are who living abroad at the time of the interview. Accordingly, it does not capture the emigration of entire families where no member of the household remains in Mexico.
Which areas/regions do most Mexican migrants in the United States come from?
In 2010, traditional sending states such as Michoacan (nearly 16 percent of the 492,000 Mexicans who went to the United States), Guanajuato (11 percent), and Jalisco (10 percent) accounted for the largest numbers of Mexican migrants who headed toward the United States (as a reference, see an overall map of Mexican states on the INEGI website). This is a shift from recent years when larger shares of migrants came from new sending states in southern and eastern Mexico. The most significant drops were recorded in the states of Chiapas and Veracruz. Between 2007 and 2010, migrants from Chiapas declined from 12 percent to 7 percent of the total outflow from Mexico. Similarly, migrants from Veracruz declined from nearly 8 percent to 3 percent of the total outflow over the same period
Note: *EMIF is an annual sample survey of migration flows along Mexico's northern border region conducted by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs (SRE) and Labor and Social Welfare (STPS), the National Migration Institute (INM), the National Population Council (CONAPO), and the College of the Northern Border (COLEF) in Tijuana. It excludes Mexicans entering the United States by air, migrants under the age of 15, and non-Mexican nationals crossing the southwest border. The category "migrants headed toward the United States" is restricted to those migrants who are traveling to the United States or a Mexican border city, are ages 15 and older, were not born in the United States, and do not have an immediate return itinerary.
Health Insurance Coverage
How many immigrants in the United States have health insurance?
What is the foreign-born share of the total US civilian labor force?
What kinds of jobs do employed immigrants hold?
Among the 117.1 million civilian employed native born ages 16 and older, 37 percent worked in management, professional, and related occupations; 17 percent worked in service occupations; 26 percent worked in sales and office occupations; 11 percent worked in production, transportation, and material moving occupations; and 8 percent worked in natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations.
Note: The percentages do not add up to 100 due to rounding.
What were the top five states in terms of the number of immigrants, share of immigrants in the total state population, absolute growth, and percent growth between 1990 and 2000 and between 2000 and 2011?
When classified by the share of immigrants in the total state population, the top five states in 2011 were California (27 percent), New York (22 percent), New Jersey (21 percent), Florida (19 percent), and Nevada (19 percent).
Between 1990 and 2000, the five states with the largest absolute growth of the immigrant population were California (2.4 million), Texas (1.4 million), New York (1 million), Florida (1 million), and Illinois (577,000).
Between 2000 and 2011, the five states with the largest absolute growth of the immigrant population were California (1.3 million), Texas (1.3 million), Florida (1 million), New York (450,000), and New Jersey (416,000).
Between 1990 and 2000, the five states with the largest percent growth* of the immigrant population were North Carolina (about 274 percent), Georgia (233 percent), Nevada (202 percent), Arkansas (196 percent), and Utah (about 171 percent).
Between 2000 and 2011, the five states with the largest percent growth* of the immigrant population were Tennessee (93 percent), South Carolina (91 percent), Alabama (85 percent), Kentucky (75 percent), and Arkansas (75 percent).
Note: *In some states, the starting population of the foreign born was rather small. Thus, relatively small absolute increases in the immigrant population in these states have translated into high percent growth.
What were the top ten US counties in terms of number of immigrants, share of immigrants in the total county population, absolute growth, and percent growth between 2000 and 2011?
When classified by the share of immigrants in the total county population, the top ten counties in 2011 were Miami-Dade County, FL (52 percent); Queens County, NY (48 percent); Hudson County, NJ (40 percent); Kings County, NY (37 percent); San Francisco County, CA (37 percent); Santa Clara County, CA (37 percent)); Los Angeles County, CA (35 percent); Bronx County, NY (34 percent); San Mateo County, CA (33 percent); and Imperial County, CA (33 percent).
Between 2000 and 2011, the ten counties with the largest absolute growth of immigrants were Harris County, TX (280,000); Riverside County, CA (194,000); Clark County, NV (181,000); Miami-Dade County, FL (171,000); Broward County, FL (147,000); King County, WA (141,000); Maricopa County, AZ (140,000); San Diego County, CA (129,000); San Bernardino County, CA (112,000); and Orange County, FL (105,000).
Between 2000 and 2011, the ten counties with the largest absolute decline of immigrants were Arlington County, VA (-1,100); Richland County, OH (-870); Aroostook County, ME (-840); Citrus County, FL (-800), Columbiana County, OH (-800), Harrison County, WV (-700); Muskegon County, MI (-700); Penobscot County, ME (-660); Lincoln County, NC (-660), and Genesee County, MI (-590).
Between 2000 and 2011, the ten counties with the largest percent growth* of the immigrant population were Walton County, GA (567 percent); Newton County, Georgia (400 percent); Buchanan County, MO (398 percent); Wilson County, TN (355 percent); Sevier County, TN (339 percent); Kendall County, IL (322 percent); Hendricks County, IN (305 percent); St. Clair County, AL (297 percent); Loudoun County, VA (295 percent); and Forsyth County, Georgia (273 percent).
Note: The above estimates represent a more than a decade-long trend of growth or decline. Some states and counties have had experienced ups and downs in flows between 2000 and 2011 that might be masked if/when one examines the 2000-2011 differences. For example, while the number of immigrants declined in Arlington County, VA overall between 2000 and 2011 by more than 1,100 (from 52,700 to 51,500), the immigrant population in fact increased between 2010 and 2011 from 48,700 to 51,500.
Note: The above county-level data are from the 2011 ACS one-year estimates which, for confidentiality and sampling reasons, reports information only for 798 out of 3,143 US counties. It is likely that the county rankings would be different if information on all counties were available.
*In some counties, the starting population of the foreign born was rather small. Thus, relatively small absolute increases in the immigrant population in these counties have translated into high percent growth.
Children with Immigrant Parents
How many children in the United States live with immigrant parents?
The 14.9 million second-generation children — those who were born in the United States to at least one foreign-born parent — accounted for 87 percent of all children with immigrant parents. The remaining 13 percent (2.2 million) were children born outside the United States to foreign-born parents and lived in the United States in 2011.
How has the number of children living with immigrant parents changed?
Between 1990 and 2000, the number of first-generation immigrant children grew by 43 percent (from 1.9 million to 2.7 million). In contrast, the number of first-generation immigrant children declined 18 percent between 2000 and 2011, from 2.7 million to 2.2 million.
The number of second-generation immigrant children has grown steadily since 1990. Between1990 and 2000, the number of second-generation immigrant children grew 65 percent from 6.3 million to 10.4 million. Between 2000 and 2011, the number of second-generation immigrant children grew by 43 percent from 10.4 million to 14.9 million.
In 1990, 13 percent of all children were living with immigrant parents, compared to 19 percent in 2000 and 24 percent in 2011. The share of second-generation children among all children with immigrant parents has grown from 77 percent in 1990 to 80 percent in 2000 and to 87 percent in 2011.
What are the top five states in terms of the number of children with living immigrant parents?
What are the top five states according to the share of children living with immigrant parents in the state's total child population?
What are the top five states in terms of the absolute growth of the number of children living with immigrant parents?
Between 2000 and 2011, the five states with the largest absolute growth of the total number of children living with immigrant parents were Texas (736,000), Florida (288,000), California (278,000), Georgia (232,000), and North Carolina (196,000).
What are the top five states in terms of the percent growth of the number of children living with immigrant parents between 1990 and 2000 and between 2000 and 2011?
Between 2000 and 2011, the five states with the largest percent growth of the total population of children living with immigrant parents were Tennessee (about 145 percent), Kentucky (about 128 percent), Arkansas (about 123 percent), North Carolina (about 117 percent), and South Carolina (about 107 percent).
How many children living with immigrant parents are in poor families?
How many foreign nationals (in all categories) obtain lawful permanent residence in the United States?
Under which categories do permanent immigrants enter?
Which countries do permanent immigrants come from?
Persons born in the next five countries — Cuba and Vietnam (3 percent each) and Korea, Colombia, and Haiti (2 percent each) — made up almost 13 percent of all LPRs. The top ten countries of birth made up half of the total of LPRs.
How many people apply for permanent immigration to the United States through the green-card lottery?
Before receiving permission to immigrate to the United States, lottery winners must provide proof of a high school education or its equivalent or show two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience. They also must pass a medical exam and a background check.
Overall interest in the DV lottery is significantly higher than the 50,000 available visas, but each year the application number varies depending on which countries are eligible. For instance, more than 7.9 million qualified applications were registered for the DV-2013 program. While an impressive amount, that number is significantly lower than the 14.8 million entries registered a year earlier. The 46 percent drop in qualified applications between DV-2012 (14.8 million) and DV-2013 (7.9 million) was almost exclusively due to the removal of one country — Bangladesh — from the list of eligible countries (in 2012, Bangladeshis accounted for 7.7 million of the total 14.8 million applications).
Check out the full list of qualified entries by country for DV-2007 to DV-2013 here.
What is the total number of nonimmigrant admissions to the United States?
Temporary admissions of I-94 nonimmigrants to the United States nearly tripled from 17.6 million in 1990 to 53.1 million (not including the admission of exempt Mexicans and Canadians) in 2011. Total temporary admissions of I-94 nonimmigrants increased from 46.5 million to 53.1 million (14 percent) from 2010 to 2011.
Note: Nonimmigrant admissions represent the number of arrivals, not the number of individuals admitted to the United States. DHS only reports characteristics of nonimmigrants that have to complete an I-94 arrival/departure form.
How do nonimmigrant admissions break down by visa category?
Temporary workers and trainees, including H-1B "specialty occupation" workers, registered nurses, temporary agricultural workers, North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) professional workers, treaty traders, and intracompany transferees, among others, accounted for almost 3.4 million arrivals (more than 6 percent of total admissions); this figure includes spouses and children of all temporary workers and trainees.
Students who entered the United States to study at academic or vocational institutes, made up about 4 percent (close to 1.9 million) of the total arrivals including their family members but not including exchange visitors).
How many visas does the Department of State (DOS) issue per year?
In 2011, DOS issued 7,507,939 nonimmigrant visas, which is a 17 percent increase from the 6,422,751 visas issued in 2010. The 2011 figure is much closer to the decade's peak of 7,588,778 visas in 2001, and higher than the decade's lowest number of visas issued of 4,881,632 in 2003 (see Figure 2).
The vast majority (75 percent) of the 7.5 million nonimmigrant visas issued in 2011 were temporary business and tourist visas (B-1, B-2, and BCC visas). The next largest visa class (F-1, F-2, and F-3) was for academic students and exchange visitors and their family members, comprising 6 percent of all nonimmigrant visas issued, followed by the J-1 and J-2 visa categories for exchange visitors and their spouses and children (nearly 5 percent).
The distribution of the 7.5 million visas issued to foreign nationals in 2011 by region shows that the majority of temporary visas were issued to nationals from Asia (36 percent) and North America (23 percent, including Central America and the Caribbean), followed by South America (close to 23 percent), Europe (13 percent), Africa (4 percent), and Oceania (1 percent).
Note: The number of visas issued does not necessarily match the number of foreign nationals who entered the United States in the same year because some nonimmigrant visas may not be used.
How many Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications were received in 2012?
Between August 15, 2012, when USCIS began accepting applications, and January 17, 2013, a total of 407,899 applications were received. Approximately, 97 percent (394,533) of applications were accepted for consideration, while 3 percent (13,366) of the applications were rejected. As of January 17, 2013, 154,404 DACA applications were approved.
The top states of residence for DACA applicants (refers to applications received, not approvals) are California (27 percent), Texas (16 percent), New York (6 percent), Illinois, and Florida (5 percent each).
The top countries of origin are Mexico (71 percent), El Salvador (4 percent), Honduras (3 percent) and Guatemala (2 percent) and Peru (1 percent).
How many foreign born enter the United States as refugees, and where are they from?
Each year, the President and Congress set the annual refugee admissions ceiling and regional allocations. For fiscal year (FY) 2013 the ceiling was set at 70,000 (down from 80,000 between 2008 and 2012). The Near East/South Asia regions received 45 percent (31,000) of the total regional allocations in response to the refugee crises in Iraq and Burma.
How many foreign born enter the United States as asylees, and where are they from?
Asylees from the top three countries of origin for asylum seekers — China, Venezuela, and Ethiopia — made up 43 percent (or 10,784) of all asylees in 2011. More specifically, 8,601 persons from China received asylum in 2011, accounting for 34 percent of all individuals who received asylum that year. The next four largest origin groups were from Venezuela (1,107), Ethiopia (1,076), Egypt (1,028), and Haiti (878), accounting for another 16 percent. Together, nationals of these five countries made up more than half of all individuals who received asylum status in 2011.
How many unauthorized immigrants are in the United States?
The Pew Hispanic Center (PHC) also produced estimates of the size and characteristics of the unauthorized immigrant population. According to recent PHC data, there were 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States in March 2011. This estimate was not statistically different from 2009 and 2010, but clearly has been on the decline from the peak of 12 million in 2007. The drop in the size of the unauthorized population (and lack of growth) is driven in large part by the decrease in the new immigrants arriving from Mexico.
Note: The data sources and estimating methodologies used by OIS and PHC to describe the unauthorized population are different. Hence the estimates are not fully comparable, and we urge our readers not to mix them. The two organizations cover somewhat different topics. For instance, OIS has estimates on the unauthorized population by period of entry, origin, state of residence, age, and sex. In addition to covering trends over time, PHC estimates include national and state-level estimates of the unauthorized labor force, as well as data on children with unauthorized parents.
Where are unauthorized migrants from?
How many children have unauthorized immigrant parents?
How many apprehensions are there per year?
The leading countries of nationality of those apprehended in 2011 were Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Nationals from these four countries comprised 91 percent of all apprehensions, with Mexican nationals comprising the overwhelming majority of apprehensions, 76 percent in 2011, down from 80 percent in 2010.
Note: Apprehensions are events, not individuals. In other words, the same individual can be apprehended more than once with each apprehension counted separately.
How many people are deported per year?
In 2011, returns accounted for 45 percent (or 323,542) of the 715,495 total removals and returns, while removals comprised 55 percent (or 391,953) of the total, a reverse from 2010.
Notes: Removals (deportations) are the compulsory and confirmed movement of an inadmissible or deportable unauthorized immigrant out of the United States based on an order of removal. An unauthorized immigrant who is removed has administrative or criminal consequences placed on subsequent reentry owing to the fact of the removal. Returns are the confirmed movement of an inadmissible or deportable unauthorized immigrant out of the United States not based on an order of removal. Most of the voluntary departures are of Mexican nationals who have been apprehended by the US Border Patrol and are returned to Mexico.
The government fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30. All figures for immigration control and enforcement given here are for the government fiscal year.
Immigration Control and Enforcement
How much does the government spend on immigration control and enforcement?
Following DHS' creation, the Border Patrol became part of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), an agency within DHS.
CBP's responsibilities include regulating and facilitating international trade, collecting import duties, enforcing US trade laws, and protecting US agricultural and economic interests from pests and diseases.
According to DHS annual budgets, the total CBP budget (gross discretionary and mandatory, fees, and trust funds) was $5.9 billion in FY 2003. The agency's budget increased 32 percent to $7.7 billion in FY 2007 and then by another 52 percent to $11.7 billion in FY 2012. The president requested nearly $12 billion for the FY 2013 budget. CBP has the highest budget of all DHS agencies.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the investigative branch of DHS and is responsible for enforcing immigration laws. In FY 2003, the total ICE budget was $3.3 billion. The budget rose 44 percent to $4.7 billion by FY2007 and another 25 percent to almost $5.9 billion by FY 2012. The president requested a budget decrease for ICE in FY2013, reducing the total to slightly more than $5.6 billion.
How many Border Patrol agents are there?
How many foreign born are naturalized citizens?
How many immigrants naturalize?
From a historical perspective, the number of naturalizations has increased dramatically in recent decades. On average, 141,000 LPRs naturalized each year between 1970 and 1979; 205,000 on average per year in the 1980s; 498,000 per year on average in the 1990s; and 682,000 per year on average during the 2000s.
The number of naturalizations reached an all-time high in 2008 (1,046,539) before falling by almost 29 percent in 2009. The sharp increase in naturalizations of about 59 percent between 2007 and 2008 (from 660,477 to 1,046,539) is a result of the promotion of naturalization during the 2008 presidential elections and impending increases in the fees assessed for applicants, which worked to encourage a surge in applications for naturalizations during that time period.
How many foreigners became US citizens through military naturalization in 2011?
Between September 2001 and September 2011, 65,204 foreign-born military personnel have naturalized on US soil. Another 9,773 have become citizens overseas or aboard Navy ships.
Between 2005 and 2011, the majority of the 9,773 foreign-born service members naturalizing overseas were naturalized in Iraq (3,410), Japan (1,919), and Germany (1,334). In addition, 991 persons were naturalized in Afghanistan during the same period.
What are the countries of origin of newly naturalized citizens?
Where do newly naturalized citizens live in the United States?
Approximately 14 percent of those who naturalized in 2011 lived in the greater New York metropolitan area (99,153), 9 percent in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area (62,373), and almost 8 percent in the greater Miami metropolitan area (55,560). These areas, together with Chicago (4 percent), San Francisco, the greater Washington DC metropolitan area, Boston, and Houston (about 3 percent each), were home to nearly half of new US citizens in 2011.
How many LPRs are eligible to naturalize?
How long does it take on average for LPRs to naturalize?
According to USCIS estimates, immigrants who naturalized in 2011 spent a median of six years in LPR status before becoming US citizens. The time varied by country of origin: African born spent about 5 years in LPR status before naturalization, followed by those born in Asia, Europe, and South America (6 years), Oceania (7 years), and North America (including Mexico and Central America) (10 years).
How many visa applications for permanent immigration (green cards) are backlogged?
The second type of backlog is due to processing delays of applicants' documents, which is related to the government's lack of financial and human resources as well as increased background and criminal checks.
Once the Department of State grants a visa to an immigrant, USCIS and the Federal Bureau of Investigation conduct background checks.
In January 2013, USCIS was processing some family-related visas applications filed as far back as April 1989, and it was still processing some employment-related visa applications from November 2002.
A US citizen wishing to sponsor an unmarried adult child from Mexico, for instance, must wait about 20 years before the application will be processed, and a US citizen wishing to sponsor a sibling from the Philippines must wait 24 years (see Table 1). However, recent years have witnessed dramatic reductions in the backlogs for certain categories of immigrants, particularly the immediate family members (spouses and children) of LPRs (i.e., see Preference 2A).
Note: In this table, the listing of a date for any class indicates that the class is oversubscribed and no visas are available; "C" means current, i.e., numbers are available for all qualified applicants; and "U" means unavailable, i.e., no numbers are available. Visa numbers are available only for applicants whose priority date is earlier than the cut-off date listed in the table).
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