Friday, November 9, 2012

Immigrant-Origin Countries and Numbers of US Immigrants, New Green Card Holders, and US Citizens

The US foreign-born population has reached a historic numerical high of 40.4 million, representing 13 percent of the US population. As a share of the overall US population, however, today's 13 percent remains below the historical high of nearly 15 percent recorded in 1890 and 1910.

To offer more detailed analysis of this and related information about US immigrants in the United States, this month the Migration Policy Institute has updated the Data Hub's US Country Profile with the data from the US Census Bureau's recently released American Community Survey (ACS) for 2011 and from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Here are a few interesting facts about immigrants residing in the United States, as well as those who became lawful permanent residents and US citizens in 2011:

* El Salvador is now among the top five origin countries of US immigrants: In 2011, El Salvador narrowly edged out Vietnam as the country with the fifth-highest number of foreign born. (According to 2011 ACS data, 1,265,000 immigrants from El Salvador resided in the United States, compared with 1,259,000 from Vietnam.) As expected, Mexico continued to hold the lead with the largest foreign-born population in the United States, with 29 percent of the nation's 40.4 million immigrants. Far behind Mexico is China (which includes Hong Kong) and India at about 5 percent each, followed by the Philippines (4 percent); El Salvador, Vietnam, Cuba, and Korea (about 3 percent each); and the Dominican Republic and Guatemala (2 percent each).

* More than 1 million immigrants received green cards in 2011 and nearly 700,000 became US citizens through naturalization: According to DHS data, 1,062,040 immigrants became lawful permanent residents (or green card holders) in 2011, with those born in Mexico, China, India, the Philippines, and the Dominican Republic representing 38 percent of all new green card holders. During the same year, 694,193 immigrants became US citizens, with nationals of Mexico, India, the Philippines, China, and Colombia accounting for 34 percent of all new naturalized US citizens. The Data Hub's updated State Rankings tables draw on 2011 ACS data to offer a picture of immigration trends statewide and across the nation.

Some new findings:

* Growth of the Foreign Born Slowed in the 2000s: The growth of the US immigrant population was twice as high in the 1990s as during the 2000s. The number of immigrants increased from 19.8 million in 1990 to 31.1 million in 2000, or 57 percent, compared to a 28 percent growth rate between 2000 and 2010. In total, the United States gained 20.2 million immigrants between 1990 and 2010. The immigrant population additionally increased by 420,000 between 2010 and 2011 (from 40 million to 40.4 million), resuming a slight growth that had been brought to a standstill by the 2007-09 recession.

* The US foreign-born population during the 2000s grew the fastest outside of the six traditional immigrant-destination states: From 2000 to 2011, the immigrant population increased substantially faster in a trio of Southern states (albeit from a small population base in 2000) than the national growth rate of 30 percent. The states with the fastest growth during the period were: Tennessee (93 percent), South Carolina (91 percent), and Alabama (85 percent). By contrast, the immigrant populations in the traditional immigrant-destination states of California and New York increased by only 15 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

 Established by the Immigration Act of 1990, the Diversity Visa Lottery aims to diversify the US immigrant population by randomly selecting applicants from countries with relatively low levels of immigration to the United States during the previous five years. As the lottery's title suggests, foreign nationals can try their luck at being randomly selected out of a pool of eligible international applicants. 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. More than 7.9 million qualified applications were received between October 4, 2011 and November 5, 2011 for the DV-2013 program. While an impressive amount, the number is significantly lower than the 14.8 million entries registered a year earlier.


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