USCIS on Legal Immigration for Q4 of FY2021

USCIS on Legal Immigration for Q4 of FY2021

The Department of Homeland Security issued a report summarizing recent trends in legal immigration during the fourth quarter of Fiscal Year 2021. The quarterly report covers four immigration categories handled by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: lawful permanent residents, refugee arrivals, naturalizations and nonimmigrant (I-94) admissions. The data indicates that while some immigration categories have returned to pre-COVID-19 levels amid recovery from related public health challenges, others have not.

The number of noncitizens who became lawful permanent residents increased 113 percent during FY2021 from over 132,000 in the first quarter to around 281,000 in the fourth quarter. There was also a 304 percent increase in new arrivals to the United States in FY2021 Q4, compared to the same period in FY2020. More than 177,000 individuals adjusted status from within the United States, marking a 69 percent increase from FY2020 Q4.

The numbers indicate a return to more typical levels after the public health challenges that arose due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. USCIS field offices reduced in-person services in line with social distancing protocols and related safety measures. Additionally, travel restrictions were imposed both in the United States and across the world.

According to the report, foreign nationals of India, China, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and the Philippines accounted for more than half of new lawful permanent residents. In FY2021 Q4, the majority of new lawful permanent residents were immediate family members of U.S. citizens, followed by employment-based preferences. This was a reversal of FY2020 Q4 when the latter category accounted for the majority of new lawful permanent residents.

The United States admitted around 6,600 refugees into the country in the fourth quarter of FY2021, marking a significant 63 percent increase from the same period in FY2020. Although the numbers represent a recovery from the effects of COVID-19, they have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.

In contrast, the increase in naturalizations throughout FY2021 indicates a return to pre-pandemic levels. Over 240,000 people naturalized in FY2021 Q4, representing a 71 percent rise from the year before.

The United States saw 9.6 million nonimmigrant admissions in the third quarter of FY2021, according to the latest data available when the report was compiled. The majority, 73 percent, were temporary visitors for pleasure. Although I-94 nonimmigrant admissions have increased six-fold compared to FY2020 Q3, they are still less than one-fifth of the pre-pandemic admissions recorded during the same period in FY2019.