CRS – U.S. Immigration Policy: Chart Book of Key Trends. William A. Kandel, Analyst in Immigration Policy, December 17, 2014
“This report is a chart book of selected immigration trends that touch on the main elements of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). Most policymakers agree that the main issues in CIR include increased border security and immigration enforcement, improved employment eligibility verification, revision of legal immigration, and options to address the millions of unauthorized aliens residing in the country. The report offers snapshots of time series data, using the most complete and consistent time series currently available for each statistic. The key findings and elements germane to the data depicted are summarized with the figures. The summary offers the highlights of key immigration trends. The United States has a history of receiving immigrants, and these foreign-born residents of the United States have come from all over the world.
- Immigration to the United States today has reached annual levels comparable to the early years of the 20th century.
- Immigration over the last few decades of the 20th century was not as dominated by three or four countries as it was earlier in the century, and this pattern has continued into the 21st century.
- The number of foreign-born residents in the United States is at its highest level in U.S. history, reaching 41.3 million in 2013.
- Foreign-born residents of the United States made up 13.1% of the U.S. population in 2013, approaching levels not seen since the proportion of foreignborn residents reached 14.8% in 1910.
Legal immigration encompasses permanent immigrant admissions (e.g., employment-based or family-based immigrants) and temporary nonimmigrant admissions (e.g., guest workers, foreign students). The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) contains the provisions detailing the requirements for admission (permanent and temporary) of foreign nationals and the eligibility rules for foreign nationals to become U.S. citizens.
- In FY2013, 991,000 aliens became U.S. legal permanent residents (LPRs). Of this total, 65% entered on the basis of family ties.
- The pool of people potentially eligible to immigrate to the United States as LPRs each year typically exceeds the worldwide level set by the INA.
- Most of the 4.4 million approved petitions pending at the close of FY2014 were for family members of U.S. citizens.
- After falling from 7.6 million in FY2001 to 5.0 million in FY2004, temporary visa issuances reached 9.2 million in FY2013.
- Generally, all of the temporary employment-based visa categories have increased since FY1994. Although there was a dip during the recent recession, the number of employment-based temporary visas increased each year between FY2010 and FY2013.”