CRS Issues Report on the Immigration Status of the U.S. Foreign Born Population

CRS Issues Report on the Immigration Status of the U.S. Foreign Born Population

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) issued a report on April 9, 2021, discussing the citizenship and immigration status of the foreign-born population in the United States. Data from 2019 shows that nearly 45 million foreign-born individuals are living in the country, accounting for around 13.7 percent of the U.S. population.

The report noted that the last five decades have seen an increase in the number of foreign-born individuals in the United States. The U.S. foreign-born population is made up of many subgroups including resident nonimmigrants, lawful permanent residents, naturalized U.S. citizens, and unauthorized and quasi-legal immigrants. CRS examined the makeup of each subgroup in detail using the most recent data available.

According to the report, the Department of State has issued between 9 million and 10 million nonimmigrant visas annually in recent years. Aside from business and tourism visitors to the United States, temporary workers represent the largest category of nonimmigrant visas. H-2A, H-1B and H-2B account for the majority of such visas. There were 188,123 visas issued in the popular H-1B category in 2019.

Naturalized citizens accounted for 52 percent of the U.S. foreign-born population in 2019. Department of Homeland Security data shows around 13.6 million green card holders were residing in the United States that year. The CRS report noted that determining the number of unauthorized and quasi-legal foreign nationals was challenging due to a lack of official data. Recent estimates, though, put the number of persons without legal status living in the United States at 10.5 million to 11 million.