Home / Population and society / Articles / Where do US immigrants come from?

In 2021, over 1.5 million immigrants came to the US from about 200 countries. About 42% of all immigrants, or 638,551 people, came for work.

What is the total number of immigrants to the US?

The total number of new arrivals to the US in the fiscal year 2021 was over 1.5 million, according to data from the Department of Homeland Security and State Department. This number indicates an increase since 2020, but it is lower than the arrivals recorded annually between 2006 and 2019.

Embed on your website

Which continents and countries did US immigrants come from in 2021?

In 2021, nearly 40% of immigrants, about 600,000 people, came to the US from Asia, followed by North America at 35%, Europe at 12%, Africa at 6%, and South America at just under 6%. The other 1.94% of immigrants were from Oceania or had an unknown nationality.

Mexico, India, and China were the most common countries of origin for immigrants. The highest number of immigrants came from Mexico: 424,791. India followed with 202,567 people. China was third with 114,121 immigrants.

Embed on your website

How have those immigration numbers changed over time?

Immigration to the US as a whole was lower in 2021 compared to 2006. In 2021, the number of people immigrating from North America increased, while the number of people arriving from Asia and Europe was lower. The largest decline in immigration was from Asia. After reaching a peak of 1.4 million immigrants in 2015, that figure dropped to 600,000 in 2021 — less than half of that peak.

Immigration from India and China had been gradually increasing between 2006 and 2015. But in 2016, immigration from China began to decrease, followed by a decline from India in 2017. Both countries hit a low in 2020, and by 2021, immigration numbers from both India and China were close to their 2006 levels.

Embed on your website

From 2006 to 2021, the largest increase in immigration came from Mexico, with the number of immigrants nearly doubling from 213,324 in 2006 to 424,791 in 2021.

Immigration from Africa, South America, and other continents remained relatively consistent.

Embed on your website

Where do immigrants pursuing work in the US come from?

Continents and countries of origin

In 2021, over 60% of immigrant workers who came to the US arrived from North America. Of those immigrants, nearly 90.4% came from Mexico. Asia was the continent with the next highest number of workers immigrating to the US, accounting for about 22%, followed by Europe (9%), Africa (4%), and South America (3%). The smallest number of immigrant workers came from Oceania or had unknown nationalities, constituting just over 1% of the total.

Embed on your website

How many immigrants come to the US for work?

Nearly 42% of immigrants came to the US to join the workforce. Since 2006, work opportunities have been the most common reason people immigrate to the US.

While the percentage of people immigrating to the US for work was similar in 2021 compared to 15 years earlier, the total number of immigrant workers coming to the US decreased between 2006 and 2021. In 2006, 841,642 people immigrated to the US for work. This number steadily increased until 2016, when it peaked at 1.1 million immigrant workers. In 2021, this number dropped to 638,551.

Embed on your website

How has the makeup of immigrant workers changed over time?

Asia was the leading source of workers immigrating to the US throughout the 2000s, up until 2017. Since then, immigrant workers from Asia have declined, while the share of immigrant workers coming from Mexico increased from 19% in 2014 to 55% in 2021.

Learn more about immigration in the US, and get the data directly in your inbox by signing up for our email newsletter.

Yearbook of Immigration Statistics
Nonimmigrant Visa Statistics