23+ Incredible Immigration Statistics You Need to Read [2020 Update]

Immigration is a sensitive topic most people try and tiptoe around. The term “immigrant” has unfortunately developed negative connotations, despite the fact that millions of legal immigrants enter the country every year. 

What’s more, there are plenty of facts and stats that get totally blown out of proportion!

So, how do you separate the truth from the lies? 

Well, our mind-blowing immigration statistics are a brilliant place to start! We’ve compiled some of the most intriguing and thought-provoking stats on this topic. Check them out, and you’ll learn a thing or two about the state of immigration in the US — and throughout the world — just as we did when we were compiling them.

  • 13.7% of the US population were immigrants in 2018, or about 44.8 million people.
  • 77% of immigrants are here legally.
  • Over 1 million immigrants enter the country each year.
  • 11.2 million Mexicans moved to the US in 2018, making up the largest immigrant group.
  • 6,674 refugees came to the US between October 1, 2019 and March 5, 2020.
  • 267,258 people were deported from the US in FY2019.
  • 3.5% of the global population are immigrants.

General Immigration Facts

Let’s start by running through some of the more general United States immigration statistics. This will include facts and figures relating to the number of immigrants in the country and how things have changed over the years. 

So, how many immigrants are there in the US right now?

Let’s find out.

1. There were approximately 44.8 million immigrants in the US in 2018.

(Pew Research Center)

The most recent statistics on immigration say that just under 45 million people in the United States are immigrants. Remember, an immigrant is anybody who leaves their country of origin and moves somewhere else. 

So, don’t get confused and assume this refers to illegal immigrants! The majority of immigrants are legal – and we’ll get onto that in just a moment. As far as the percentage of the population goes, well, it looks like this…

2. 13.7% of the population are immigrants, US immigration statistics show.

(Pew Research Center)

Initially, seeing that 44.8 million immigrants live in the US sounds quite shocking. But in terms of percentages, it’s not that high at all. If you bear with us, you’ll find that immigration statistics by country show many other places with a much higher percentage. 

Still, there’s no denying the fact that the immigrant population of the US has definitely increased since the introduction of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. 

3. There are more than four times as many immigrants now compared to the 1960s.

(Pew Research Center)

That’s right, the total number of US immigrants has more than quadrupled since the 1960s. This is according to the most recent immigration numbers by year, but what does it mean?

Well, there’s been a steady increase since the introduction of the new Immigration Act in ‘65. Contrary to what you may believe, it’s not simply a case of illegal immigrants and refugees all flooding to the country by any means necessary. 

In fact, green card statistics suggest that in most cases, people took the chance to move to the US for job opportunities and a chance at following the American Dream! 

4. 35.2 million immigrants in the US are lawful immigrants. 

(Pew Research Center)

Of the 44.8 million total immigrants in the country, 77% are here legally. When you dive into the statistical data, you find that the legal immigration statistics are split into different categories. This includes naturalized citizens, lawful permanent residents, and temporary residents. 

In essence, the main thing to take from this data is that the vast majority of US immigrants are here legally in some way, shape, or form. 

5. 22.6 million legal immigrants are naturalized citizens.

(Migration Policy Institute)

This works out as approximately 51% of the total US immigrants, founded on government immigration statistics. Therefore, the bulk of legal immigrants do have US citizenship. This means they’ve gone through the naturalization process established by the Immigration and Nationality Act. 

For all intents and purposes, they are Americans. It’s just that they technically retain their immigrant status because they’re also citizens of another country. 

6. 27% of legal immigrants are lawful permanent residents, the latest US immigration data shows.

(Pew Research Center)

This amounts to 12.3 million people.

What does it mean? 

Well, a lawful permanent resident means that someone legally lives in the country on a full-time basis. They work here, pay local taxes, and so on. The only thing missing is their official US citizenship. 

However, many of the lawful permanent residents do choose to become naturalized at a later date. 

7. 5% of legal immigrants are here on a temporary basis.

(Pew Research Center)

According to the latest US legal immigration statistics, this is around 2.2 million of the lawful population

Someone is classified in this category for many reasons. Typically, it refers to students that have come here to study or people who are working in the US for a specific period. They’ve got all the right visas and travel information, but they aren’t staying in the country permanently. 

8. Illegal immigration statistics show that 23% of immigrants are here unlawfully.

(Pew Research Center)

By our calculations, that makes for a total of 10.5 million illegal immigrants in the United States — at the time of gathering this data. 

We have to point out that the official immigrant statistics only go up to 2017 at the moment. So, this number could have risen or decreased since then. 

An illegal immigrant is defined as anyone that enters the country by avoiding the legal process and without having all of the correct documents.

Immigration Statistics - passport

US Immigration Statistics By Year

Time to narrow things down just a little bit. All of the previous stats have shown the overall number of immigrants in the US. But what do the figures look like on a yearly basis? Well, read on to find out…

9. 44,728,700 immigrants entered the US in 2018.

(Migration Policy Institute)

According to the DHS immigration statistics, over 1 million immigrants enter the country every year

This is one of the largest immigration rates in the world, but it’s largely down to the sheer size of the country. Consider the fact that the population of the US sat at over 327 million people in 2018.

With the help of a calculator, this works out to 0.36% of the population. All of a sudden, this stat doesn’t seem so alarming! 

10. Between 2017 and 2018, the immigrant population increased by less than 0.5%.

(Migration Policy Institute)

There was an overall increase in the US immigrant population by 203,000 in 2018. This figure indicates that the foreign-born population stayed flat between 2017 and 2018, as can be deduced from US immigration stats.

Now, hold on just a second. 

You might think this contradicts the previous stat that showed over a million immigrants entering the country that year. So, how can the population increase by less than this? 

Well, it comes down to the number of immigrants that left the country during this period. Temporary residents may have left, some illegal immigrants may have gotten deported, etc. 

11. 11.2 million immigrants came from Mexico. 

(Pew Research Center)

Immigration statistics 2018 show that Mexicans made up over 11 million of the immigrants entering the country that year.

This should come as no surprise. Besides, it’s been long known that many Mexicans see the land beyond Rio Grande as a place to make more money and get a good start in life. 

12. 25% of immigrants entering the US each year are Mexicans.

(Migration Policy Institute)

The Mexican immigration statistics show that a quarter of all US immigrants are from Mexico. Again, this just backs up our previous point. 

Unfortunately, there’s currently no data that accurately reflects the legal vs illegal immigration statistics for people by country. So, we can’t say for sure how many Mexican immigrants are here lawfully. 

13. Indian and Chinese immigrants are in joint-second place.

(Migration Policy Institute)

If we were to look at US immigration by country, then India and China are in joint-second place with 6% of the immigrant population each

The same data suggests that the Philippines are next with 5%, followed by El Salvador, Vietnam, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic with 3%. Lastly, South Korea and Guatemala round off the top 10 with 2% each. 

In the final analysis, the majority of US immigrants come from either Central America or Asia. 

14. 23% of US immigrants entered in 2010 or later.

(Migration Policy Institute)

By looking at the US immigration statistics by decade, we see that just under a quarter of the immigrant population entered the country after 2010. 

In comparison, 25% arrived in the decade before, and 21% in the decade before that. 

Before 1990, 30% of the immigrant population moved to the US. If anything, this shows that the immigration rate is decreasing each decade. 

15. Over 756,000 immigrants were naturalized in 2018.

(U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services)

While most of the immigration data only dates back to 2017, we can look at some more recent naturalization statistics. In 2018, over 750,000 immigrants were naturalized and took up US citizenship.

Immigration Statistics - refugee

US Refugee Statistics

Refugees are migrants that flee their own country to avoid some type of significant issue. Typically, this happens when countries are at war and the population wants to get to safety. With that in mind, we’ve found some telling US refugee stats that are well worth looking at: 

16. More than 6,000 refugees were admitted to the US in the first five months of FY2020.

(Migration Policy Institute)

This is another one of those US immigration statistics that sound insane at first sight. In a little over five months of FY2020 (October 1, 2019 – March 5, 2020), 6,674 people received refugee status in the US. This figure represents more than one-third of the annual maximum of 18,000, which is the lowest level on record

17. There were 30,000 refugees admitted in 2019, exactly matching the annual maximum

(Migration Policy Institute)

American immigration statistics confirm that there were 30,000 refugees let into the United States in 2019, which exactly matched the annual ceiling. Fewer refugees (22,491) were recorded a year prior, representing a sharp drop of 58% from 2017.

18. In 2018,  43.4% of the refugee population was below the age of 18.

(Department of Homeland Security)

Perhaps the most harrowing of all statistics about immigration9,722 of refugees in the US are children.

This goes to show that kids are regularly fleeing their countries to try and avoid conflict and get the help they need. It also throws a bit of light on the potential impact of strict refugee capping policies. By limiting how many refugees enter the country, the government is effectively stopping loads of children from finding a safe home. 

Of course, things are more complex than that, so we won’t get into a political debate here! 

19. 35.2% of refugees in the US are from DR Congo.

(Department of Homeland Security)

In terms of immigration numbers, that’s 7,878 people. In second place, you have Burma with a refugee share of 15.9% in the US. To put it in numbers, that’s 3,555 people. 

Coming in at third place is Ukraine, with 11.8% of refugees coming from this European country. However, there’s much more to these stats than you might initially think. So, let’s break things down for you…

20. There has been a massive decrease in numbers for both Burma and DR Congo.

(Department of Homeland Security)

The Department of Homeland Security immigration statistics reveal that both Burma and DR Congo saw dramatic decreases in refugee numbers since 2016. Back then, DR Congo saw 16,370 refugees entering the US to seek asylum. Burma had 12,347 people seeking refuge in the country. 

Percentage-wise, these USA asylum seekers statistics show that they still make up the top two places for US refugees. However, the numbers have decreased by well over half. 

When you look at the yearbook of immigration statistics, the figure on refugees isn’t overly shocking. If refugee numbers are down by over 50% since 2017, it only makes sense that these numbers are also decreasing. 

But, things get a little interesting when we look at Ukraine. 

21. The number of Ukrainian refugees has increased by 3% since 2016.

(Department of Homeland Security)

In 2016, there were 2,543 Ukrainian refugees in the US. This number rose to 2,635 in 2018  as shown by the US immigration history statistics.

What’s more, Ukraine is the only nation to see a rise in refugees entering the US in the same period. How does that work out? 

Well, the main reason could be down to the increasing tension in the country. Ukraine has fallen on hard times since 2014 as a result of the conflict in the Donbass. There’s also a substantial Ukrainian diaspora in North America, so it is seen as a good place to go and still hold onto some of your cultural heritage. 

Having said that, it’s still very surprising that this is the only country to see a rise in refugees entering the United States. Especially considering previously mentioned immigration stats that reveal that the number of refugees is rapidly declining.

Immigration Statistics - immigrants

US Deportation Statistics

Next on our journey through immigration statistics, we have some deportation numbers to throw at you.

So, let’s see what the data has to say:

22. 267,258 people were deported from the US in FY2019.

(Department of Homeland Security)

Of that number, 150,141 were convicted criminals, immigration statistics 2019 show. 

What’s more shocking is that 5,702 immigrants listed as family unit members were deported. This represents a whopping increase of 110% in family unit member deportations, the highest level recorded over the last 10 fiscal years.

Mexicans are the largest group of deportees, accounting for 127,492 of the total number. They were followed by Guatemala (54,919), and Honduras with 41,800 repatriated nationals.

23. Immigration detention statistics hinted that there has been a slight increase in deportations in the past year.

(Department of Homeland Security)

In the 2018 fiscal year, 256,085 people were deported from the US. By the end of FY2019, this number increased by over 11,000. 

What can we take from this? 

Although the increase is not that large, the number of people being deported is on the rise! Is this that surprising? 

Well, not really. 

If you look at some of the data we’ve collected, you can see sustained growth in the US immigration trends. The aim is to reduce the number of people entering the country — particularly illegally — and get rid of as many undocumented settlers as possible, thus lowering the percentage of illegal immigrants in the US.

Therefore, it will be very interesting to see what the deportation numbers say at the end of this year.

Immigration Stats from Around The World

On that note, we’ve concluded our United States immigration data and statistics. You’ve seen the numbers, and you’ve looked at all the information

But how does this compare to the rest of the world?

Now, you might remember we mentioned some global statistics earlier on. Well, now we can reveal what immigration looks like overseas. 

24. There were 272 million immigrants around the world in 2019, world immigration statistics confirm.

(United Nations)

Research from the United Nations determines that approximately 3.5% of the global population were immigrants in 2019

From a US perspective, this is quite curious. If you recall, 13.7% of the country is made up of immigrants. As such, you could conclude that the US has a way above average rate of immigration. 

It’s obviously not as simple as that, but how many of the world’s immigrants are in the United States? 

25. According to world immigration statistics by country, about 51 million global immigrants are located in the U.S. 

(United Nations)

Of course, this is due to the sheer number of people living in the country. If you have over 44 million immigrants, you’re bound to make up a fair chunk of global immigrants. It’s not really an indication of a problem in the US, but more of an indicator of the fact that loads of people are choosing to live there due to the vast number of opportunities provided. 

In fact, if you look at some of the other countries, the US immigration rate of 13% doesn’t seem that high at all…

26. The UAE has the highest percentage of immigrants — 87.3% — in the world.

(Population & Societies)

87.3% of the UAE is made up of immigrants. Now, by comparison, the percentage of immigrants in the US is ridiculously low! 

Do you see what we’re getting at? Immigration facts can be very hard to track and compare because of how different they can be. Do you worry about the number of people entering the country, or do you look at the percentage compared to the rest of the population?

The intriguing thing about the UAE is that this percentage is mainly down to the considerable developments in this part of the world. You have places like Dubai that have sprung up over the last few decades and transformed into luxury areas to live. So, it stands to reason that people are flocking there to work and make a lot of money.

The Lowdown On Immigration

Aaaand breathe. 

That’s it, you’ve reached the end of our detailed look at immigration facts and statistics. We hope you’ve taken a lot away from this. 

The key takeaways are: 

Over a million immigrants enter the US every year. The majority of immigrants in the country are here legally, with most of them accepting nationalized status. The number of refugees is decreasing, while the number of deportations is rising. 

It’s always important to get the facts straight, as there is a lot of misleading information on immigration out there!

FAQ

(Department of Homeland Security)

The Department of Homeland Security estimates that the undocumented immigrants population has increased by 70,000 individual each year between 2010 and 2015. This is way smaller than the yearly increases recorded between 2000 and 2007, which amounted to 470,000.

(U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services)

Approximately 620,000 to 780,000 immigrants have been granted citizenship in the US and around the world every year since 2009. This means that more than half, and up to almost 1 million people, are moving from their countries of origin to other places in search of greener pastures.

(U.S. Immigration Law Center)

People’s reasons for leaving their country of origin vary, with some of these presented and further discussed in immigration statistics. There can be countless reasons why people want to come to the US, but the most common ones include better work opportunities, better living conditions, getting the best education, being with their spouses or families, and escaping their troubled country.

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