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Legal Immigration and Adjustment of Status Report Fiscal Year 2019, Quarter 1

On March 6, 2017, the President issued a Memorandum for the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Homeland Security on Implementing Immediate Heightened Screening and Vetting of Applications for Visas and Other Immigration Benefits, Ensuring Enforcement of All Laws for Entry into the United States, and Increasing Transparency among Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government and for the American People.

The Memorandum directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to issue 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) prepared this report to comply with the President’s directive.

The report describes legal immigration and adjustments of status and provides links to data tables within four categories:

Historically, OIS has reported on immigration benefits annually, with data extraction beginning three 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 one month after the end of the reporting period. OIS will provide revised figures for previous quarters in future reports as additional data become available. The numbers in this report reflect revisions to previously published numbers.

Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR)

Recent Trends

Approximately[1] 257,000 foreign nationals obtained lawful permanent resident (LPR) status in the first quarter (Q1) of Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 (Table 1A). Of these admissions, over 140,000 adjusted status from within the United States, and 117,000 entered as new arrivals. Compared to the first quarter of FY 2018, total FY 2019 Q1 admissions decreased by two percent, new arrivals decreased by five percent, and adjustments of status remained unchanged.

Countries of Origin

Thirty-nine percent of new LPRs in FY 2019 Q1 were from six top countries of nationality: Mexico, the People’s Republic of China, India, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and the Philippines (Table 1A). In FY 2018 Q1, these same six countries represented 43 percent of new LPRs.

Classes and Modes of Admission

Forty-five percent of new LPRs obtained status as immediate relatives of U.S. citizens in FY 2019 Q1, followed by an additional 20 percent who obtained status under a family preference category (Table 1B). In FY 2018 Q1, these two categories represented 44 percent and 18 percent of new LPRs, respectively.

Employment-based preferences and refugees were the third and fourth largest classes of admission in FY 2019 Q1, accounting for 15 and 10 percent of new LPRs, respectively. In FY 2018 Q1, these two categories each represented 14 percent of new LPRs.

Data Sources

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) provided LPR data from Computer Linked Application Information Management System (CLAIMS) and Electronic Immigration System (ELIS)[2] CLAIMS includes information from the DHS Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, which is used by applicants living in the United States. ELIS maintains information from applications for LPR status by applicants living abroad. ELIS automatically confirms an applicant’s status from the Department of State 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

In FY 2019 Q1, 5,700 refugees were admitted (Table 2), an increase of seven percent compared to FY 2018 Q1, when a total of 5,300 refugees were admitted.

Countries of Origin

Ninety percent of refugees were from six top countries of nationality: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ukraine, Burma, Eritrea, Afghanistan, and Burundi (Table 2). In FY 2018 Q1, the six top countries of nationality (Bhutan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burma, Ukraine, Eritrea, and Russia) accounted for 83 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.


Recent Trends

In FY 2019 Q1, 175,000 foreign nationals naturalized (Table 3), a seven percent increase compared to FY 2018 Q1, when 163,000 foreign nationals naturalized.

Countries of Origin

Forty percent of naturalizations consisted of foreign nationals from six top countries of nationality: Mexico, India, the Philippines, the People’s Republic of China, Cuba, and Vietnam (Table 3). In FY 2018 Q1, the top six countries accounted for 43 percent of naturalizations, and included the Dominican Republic instead of Vietnam.

Data Sources

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

I-94 Nonimmigrant Admissions

At the time of this report, data on nonimmigrant admissions were available for all four quarters of FY 2018.[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] future reports will also provide detailed data on non-I-94 admissions.

Recent Trends

In FY 2018, DHS recorded a total of approximately 186 million nonimmigrant admissions to the United States, including more than 81 million I-94 nonimmigrant admissions (Table 4B). Total nonimmigrant and I-94 nonimmigrant admissions increased by three percent and five percent in FY 2018 compared to the previous year, when DHS recorded 181 million nonimmigrant admissions and 78 million I-94 nonimmigrant admissions.

Countries of Origin

In FY 2018, five countries of nationality accounted for 58 percent of all I-94 nonimmigrant admissions: Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, and the People’s Republic of China (Table 4A). In FY 2017, these same five countries represented similar proportions of I-94 nonimmigrant admissions.

Classes of Admission

Visitors entering for pleasure or business comprised 91 percent of all I-94 nonimmigrant admissions, followed by temporary workers and their families (five percent), and students and their families (two percent; Table 4B). These top classes of admissions accounted for similar proportions of I-94 nonimmigrant admissions in FY 2017.

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 recorded in the CBP Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS) database.

[1] Numbers in this report are approximations and are typically rounded to the nearest thousand. For exact numbers, refer to the data tables.

[2] USCIS has built the ELIS electronic 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) and the Application for Naturalization (Form N-400).

[3] The 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 and departure dates, port of entry, class of admission, country of nationality, state of destination, age, and gender. A number of changes to I-94 procedures in recent years affected I-94 nonimmigrant admissions data. Beginning in 2010, DHS completed updates to computer systems at vehicular lanes and pedestrian crossings along the Northern and Southwest Borders to record land admissions previously excluded from I-94 data systems. Beginning in April 2013, CBP automated the I-94 process for nonimmigrants admitted at air and sea ports. This transition from paper to electronic I-94 records at air and sea ports also means that CBP automatically generates I-94 records for Canadian business and tourist travelers admitted at air and sea ports even though they were not previously required to complete I-94 forms. In 2014 CBP made additional changes to its electronic data systems, which have resulted in large increases in the number of I-94 nonimmigrant admissions recorded compared to previous years.

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

Last Published Date: January 9, 2020
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