Thursday, September 14, 2017
Immigrants from India are the second-largest foreign-born group in the United States, after Mexicans. Indian immigrants tend to be far more highly educated and have greater English proficiency than the foreign-born population overall. This Migration Information Source Spotlight article offers the latest data on Indian immigrants, focusing on population size, state- and city-level distribution, occupation, educational attainment, and more.
Immigrants from India first arrived in the United States in small numbers during the early 19th century, primarily as low-skilled farm laborers. In recent decades the population has grown substantially, with 2.4 million Indian immigrants resident in the United States as of 2015. This makes the foreign born from India the second-largest immigrant group after Mexicans, accounting for almost 6 percent of the 43.3 million foreign-born population.
In 1960, just 12,000 Indian immigrants lived in the United States, representing less than 0.5 percent of the 9.7 million overall immigrant population. Migration from India swelled between 1965 and 1990 as a series of legislative changes removed national-origin quotas, introduced temporary skilled worker programs, and created employment-based permanent visas. In 2016, Indians were the top recipients of high-skilled H-1B temporary visas and were the second-largest group of international students in the United States.
A college student applies henna, the Indian tradition of painting elaborate designs on the skin. (Photo: University of Illinois Springfield)