United States of America

The USA is a beautiful country and is considered to be the land of freedom and opportunity. Many people have been immigrating to the USA for many years.

Common reasons are:

  • Jobs and business opportunities
  • To escape poverty
  • To seek superior healthcare
  • To escape conflict or violence in their home countries
  • To escape past or possible future persecution based on race, religion, nationality, and/or membership in a particular social group or political opinion
  • To find refuge after being displaced due to environmental factors
  • To offer more opportunities to children
  • Family reunification
  • Educational purposes
    History of Immigration to US

Origins of the U.S Immigrant Population: 1960-2016

Year Europe/Canada South and East Asia Other Latin America Mexico
1960 84% 4% 4% 6%
1970 68% 7% 11% 8%
1980 42% 15% 16% 16%
1990 26% 22% 21% 22%
2000 19% 23% 22% 29%
2010 15% 25% 24% 29%
2011 15% 25% 24% 29%
2012 14% 26% 24% 28%
2013 14% 26% 24% 28%
2014 14% 26% 24% 28%
2015 14% 27% 24% 27%
2016 13% 27% 25% 26%

Note: “Other Latin America” includes Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

Source: Pew Research Center tabulations of 1960-2000 decennial censuses and 2010, 2013-2016 American Community Surveys (IPUMS).

Foreign-born Population in the United States, 1850-2016

Source: U.S. Census Bureau population estimates and Pew Research Center tabulations of 2010, 2013-2016 American Community Surveys (IPUMS).


The term “immigrants” (also known as the foreign born) refers to people residing in the United States who were not U.S. citizens at birth. This population includes naturalized citizens, lawful permanent residents (LPRs), certain legal non-immigrants (e.g., persons on student or work visas), those admitted under refugee or asylee status, and persons illegally residing in the United States.

Denied Entry to USA?

There are reasons why travellers may be denied entry to the US at the border. Most common reasons are

  • They have previously worked illegally in the US
  • They are suspected of being intended immigrants who will overstay their visas
  • They are suspected of having ties to terrorist or criminal organizations
  • They have overstayed a previous visit to the US
  • They do not have sufficient funds to support themselves while there
  • They have health issues like “communicable disease”, “a physical or mental disorder that may pose, or has posed, a threat to [the person] or others” or “a drug abuser or addict”
  • They have been found guilty of a criminal offence

Employment Based Immigration Visas

There are various Employment-Based Immigration visa categories to move to US that give you green cards and you become eligible for permanent residence:

  • Employment-Based Immigration: First Preference EB-1
  • Employment-Based Immigration: Second Preference EB-2
  • Employment-Based Immigration: Third Preference EB-3
  • Employment-Based Immigration: Fourth Preference EB-4
  • Employment-Based Immigration: Fifth Preference EB-5

What is a Green Card?

Green Card is the permit allowing immigrants to permanently live and work in the United States of America.

The official name of the US Green Card is “Lawful Permanent Resident Card”.

Green Card holders can choose their place of work or where they want to live in the USA without limits and for however long they want.

Eligibility Categories

In order to apply for a Green Card, you must be eligible under one of the categories listed below.

  • Green Card through Family
  • Green Card through Employment
  • What is a lawful permanent resident?

    A lawful permanent resident is someone who has been granted the right to live in the United States indefinitely. Permanent residence includes the right to work in the U.S. for most employers or for yourself. Permanent residents continue to hold citizenship of another country. 

    Permanent residents are issued an “alien registration card,” known informally as a green card (because at one time the card was green in color).  You may use your green card to prove employment eligibility and apply for a social security card.

    Can I travel outside the U.S. as a permanent resident? 

    A permanent resident may travel outside the U.S. and must present the valid alien registration card when re-entering the U.S.  In addition, a permanent resident should travel with an unexpired passport of another country. 

    Each time you return to the U.S., you are subject to the same grounds of inadmissibility as when you were approved for permanent resident status (e.g., health-related concerns, certain criminal activity, terrorism, national security, public charge, willful misrepresentation and false claims to U.S. citizenship). 

    What are my responsibilities as a permanent resident?

    Permanent residents are required to:

    • File U.S. income tax returns as a resident
    • Obey all laws of the U.S., states and localities
    • Register for the Selective Service (if you are male and between age 18 through 25)
    • Support the democratic form of government
    • Notify the USCIS of any changes of address using Form AR-11

    When do permanent residents become eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship?

    After a certain length of time – five years in most cases, three years for spouses of U.S. citizens – permanent residents may apply to become a U.S. citizen through a process called naturalization. 

    Additional requirements for naturalization include:

    • Good moral character
    • Ability to read, write and speak English
    • Understanding of U.S. history and government
    • Continuous residence in the U.S. as a permanent resident for at least 5 years preceding the application for naturalization and physical presence in the U.S. for at least half that time
    • Residence in the state or USCIS district where the application is made for at least 3 months prior to the application. The application is filed using Form N-400 (application for naturalization).

    Can I lose my permanent residence?

    Yes. If you commit certain crimes or other violations, you may be placed in removal proceedings and become subject to deportation. 

    Also, if you remain outside the U.S. for extended periods of time (typically more than 6 months at a time), the immigration authorities may scrutinize your situation to determine if you have abandoned your intention to make the U.S. your permanent home.  Any absences of one year leads to the presumption that you have abandoned your permanent residence.  It is extremely difficult to overcome that presumption.

    If you know you will be outside the U.S. for an extended period of time, you may wish to apply for a re-entry permit prior to your departure.  A re-entry permit is typically issued with a 2 year validity, and does not guarantee that you will be granted entry to the U.S., but it can assist in establishing your intention to reside permanently in the U.S.

    What are some of the benefits of U.S. citizenship?

    A U.S. citizen may apply for a U.S. passport, issued by the U.S. State department. Many countries allow visa-free travel for U.S. citizens.

    A U.S. citizen can leave and re-enter the U.S. at any time without being subject to the grounds of inadmissibility. There are no restrictions on the amount of time you can remain outside the United States.

    U.S. citizens can vote in U.S. federal and local elections, hold certain government jobs, and serve on juries. Many federal and state government grants, scholarships and benefits are available only to U.S. citizens.

    U.S. citizens are eligible for special security clearance required for some jobs, both with the U.S. government and other employers.

    As a U.S. citizen, you can petition for certain relatives to immigrate to the U.S. Your spouse, unmarried children under age 21, and parents will be considered immediate relatives, and will not have to wait to receive permanent resident status (beyond the processing time of the petition and interview process). Your married children and children over age 21, as well as your brothers and sisters, are considered preference relatives, and can be put on a waiting list to immigrate. The waiting period for siblings can be several years.

    U.S. citizens cannot be deported from the United States, unless they committed fraud or made a misrepresentation to obtain their green card or citizenship.