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Legal Immigration and Adjustment of Status Report Fiscal Year 2020, Quarter 4

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issues quarterly reports detailing the number of adjustments of immigration status. During the reporting period, data are disaggregated by type of adjustment, type and detailed class of admission, and country of nationality. The Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS), located within the Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans, prepared this report.

The report describes legal immigration and adjustments of status and provides data tables (at bottom of this webpage) for these four categories:

  • Lawful Permanent Residents
  • Refugee Arrivals
  • Naturalizations
  • Nonimmigrant (I-94) Admissions

Historically, OIS has reported on immigration benefits annually, with data extraction beginning 3 months after the end of the fiscal year. This quarterly report provides information about legal migration flows and adjustments of status based on data available as of December 2, 2020. OIS will provide revised figures for previous quarters in future reports and in the annual Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, as additional data becomes available. The numbers in this report reflect revisions to previously published numbers.

Lawful Permanent Residents

Recent Trends

Approximately1 130,000 noncitizens obtained lawful permanent resident (LPR) status in the fourth quarter (Q4) of Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 (see Table 1A). Nearly 26,000 noncitizens entered the United States as new arrivals, a 78 percent decrease from FY 2019 Q4. Over 104,000 noncitizens adjusted status from within the United States, an 18 percent decrease from FY 2019 Q4. These significant drops coincided with COVID-19-related public health challenges that resulted in a reduction in the volume of in-person services provided at USCIS field offices in order to increase safety and accommodate social distancing protocols. Although the number of LPRs has not yet returned to pre-COVID levels, it increased significantly from more than 79,000 in FY 2020 Q3 to more than 130,000 in FY 2020 Q4, which represents a quarterly increase of 65 percent.

Countries of Nationality

In FY 2020 Q4, 41 percent of LPRs were from the top six countries of nationality: India, Mexico, the People’s Republic of China (China), the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, and Brazil (see Table 1A) respectively. In FY 2019 Q4, the top six countries of nationality (Mexico, China, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, India, and the Philippines, respectively) represented 39 percent of new LPRs.

Classes and Modes of Admission

The largest LPR class of admission (41 percent) in FY 2020 Q4 was comprised of employment-based preferences, followed by 36 percent of LPRs who obtained status as immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, and 7 percent who obtained status as family-sponsored preferences. Refugees and asylees, the next largest classes of admission, accounted for 7 and 3 percent of LPRs respectively (see Table 1B). In FY 2019 Q4, the majority of new LPRs were immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (50 percent), family-sponsored preferences (22 percent), employment-based preferences (11 percent), diversity (6 percent), and refugees (5 percent).

Data Sources

USCIS provided LPR data from its Computer Linked Application Information Management System (CLAIMS) and its Electronic Immigration System (ELIS).2 CLAIMS includes information from DHS Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, which is used by applicants living in the United States. ELIS includes information from certain Form I-485 records, as well as applications for LPR status submitted by applicants living abroad. ELIS automatically confirms the applicant’s status based on one of two Department of State forms: either Form DS-230, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration, or Form DS-260, Electronic Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration.

Refugee Arrivals

Recent Trends

Just over 4,000 refugees were admitted to the United States in FY 2020 Q4 (see Table 2), a 53 percent decline from FY 2019 Q4, when nearly 9,000 refugees were admitted. These significant drops coincided with COVID-19-related public health challenges and the lowest refugee ceiling at least since passage of the 1980 Refugee Act. Note, however, that the number of refugee admissions increased significantly from 371 in FY 2020 Q3 to over 4,000 in FY 2020 Q4, which represents a quarterly increase of 994%.

Countries of Nationality

In FY 2020 Q4, 78 percent of refugees arrived from the top six countries of nationality: Burma, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, and El Salvador (see Table 2) respectively. In FY 2019 Q4, the top six countries of nationality (the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ukraine, Burma, Afghanistan, Eritrea, and Syria respectively) accounted for 86 percent of refugee arrivals.

Data Sources

Refugee data presented in Table 2 are from the Worldwide Refugee Admissions Processing System (WRAPS) of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration of the U.S. Department of State.

Naturalizations

Recent Trends

Fewer than 132,000 persons naturalized in FY 2020 Q4 (see Table 3), a 48 percent decrease from FY 2019 Q4, when 254,000 persons naturalized. These significant drops coincided with COVID-19-related public health challenges that resulted in a reduction in the volume of in-person services provided at USCIS field offices in order to increase safety and accommodate social distancing protocols. Although the number of naturalized individuals has not yet returned to pre-COVID levels, it increased significantly from nearly 81,000 in FY 2020 Q3 to nearly 132,000 in FY 2020 Q4, which represents a quarterly increase of 63 percent.

Countries of Nationality

Thirty-eight percent of naturalizations in FY 2020 Q4 consisted of persons from the top six countries of nationality: Mexico, India, Cuba, the Philippines, China, and Vietnam (see Table 3), respectively. In FY 2019 Q4, the top six countries of nationality (Mexico, India, the Philippines, China, Cuba, and Vietnam, respectively) accounted for 38 percent of naturalizations.

Data Sources

Naturalization data presented in Table 3 come from administrative records of DHS Form N-400 applications recorded in the USCIS CLAIMS and ELIS data systems.

I-94 Nonimmigrant Admissions

At the time of this report, data on nonimmigrant admissions were only available for the third quarter (Q3) of FY 2020.3 Detailed data on nonimmigrants in this report are based on I-94/I-94W information, which U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) uses to record certain nonimmigrant admissions (collectively referred to as I-94 nonimmigrant admissions).4

Recent Trends

In FY 2020 Q3, DHS recorded a total (i.e., including both I-94 and estimated non-I-94 admissions) of over 4.4 million nonimmigrant admissions to the United States. Specifically, this included more than 572,000 I-94 nonimmigrant admissions (see Table 4B), a 97 percent decrease from FY 2019 Q3. These significant drops coincided with COVID-19-related public health challenges.

Countries of Nationality

Six countries of nationality – Mexico, Canada, India, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and Jamaica respectively – accounted for 85 percent of I-94 nonimmigrant admissions in FY 2020 Q3 (see Table 4A). In FY 2019 Q3, the top six countries of nationality (Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, China, and India respectively) accounted for 60 percent of I-94 nonimmigrant admissions.

Classes of Admission

Forty percent of I-94 nonimmigrants admitted in FY 2020 Q3 were temporary workers and their families, followed by visitors entering for pleasure (32 percent), and visitors for business (21 percent; see Table 4B). In FY 2019 Q3, these classes of admissions represented 5 percent, 80 percent, and 12 percent of I-94 nonimmigrant admissions respectively.

Data Sources

Data on total nonimmigrant admissions come from DHS workload estimates. Detailed data on I-94 nonimmigrant admissions are based on DHS Form I-94/I-94W arrival records in the CBP TECS database.

Endnotes

  1. Numbers in this report are usually rounded to the nearest thousand. For exact numbers, refer to the data tables.
  2. USCIS built the ELIS case management system as a part of its Transformation Program – an agency-wide modernization initiative to enable end-to-end electronic benefit case processing. Currently, ELIS receives and processes a variety of USCIS form types; the data for this report are obtained from USCIS records and associated data for the immigrant visa packets (upon arrival in the United States), Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, and certain records from Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
  3. Nonimmigrant admission data are always a quarter behind due to CBP’s data reporting closeout process.
  4. Information collected from these I-94 records includes arrival dates, port of entry, class of admission, country of nationality, state of destination, age, gender, and, in some instances, departure dates. I-94 data do not describe all nonimmigrant admissions because certain visitors (e.g., most short-term visitors from Mexico and Canada) are not required to fill out the I-94 form.

Previous quarterly data for this report are available in the OIS Reading Room under Legal Immigration and Adjustment of Status Report Quarterly Data.

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File Legal Immigration and Adjustment of Status Report FY 2020, Quarter 4 xlsx 72.6 KB 04/20/2021
Created Date: May 22, 2017
Last Published Date: April 21, 2021
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