Legal immigrants comprised 75 percent of the foreign-born population in America, which translates to 33.8 million people out of 44.7 million in 2015. Among legal immigrants, people holding US citizenship (19.8 million) exceeded legal permanent residents (11.9 million) as per 2015 figures (The latest figures available as per the US figures).
The rest of the population born overseas is made up of 11 million illegal immigrants and 2.1 million people residing on Temporary Visas in the US. The total population born abroad made up 13.4 percent of the American population in 2015.
According to Pew Research Center, one million immigrants receive green cards or legal permanent resident status every year, which is a route to citizenship. Most of these are said to have been sponsored by family members. Among the 1.051 million people who were granted green cards in 2015, 65 percent were relatives of a citizen or Permanent Residents of the US. Of them, 25 percent new permanent residents were spouses, 13 percent were parents and 6.3 percent were dependent children.
Included in other family admission visas are adult children and siblings of Americans and spouses and children of Permanent Residents. These people are taken as per limits of category and country. Around 144,000 green cards in 2015 were granted to people who were employment visa holders and their family members. About 152,000 green cards were given to asylum seekers.
Nearly 48,000 green cards were given to immigrants allowed under a ‘diversity’ program to provide extra visas to countries which send fewer numbers of people to the US. In the period 2004-2015, 57 percent of people who received green cards were already residing in the US on Temporary Visas.
Permanent residents of the US are authorised to work there, travel outside the US and are eligible for certain federal benefits. The permanent residents may apply for citizenship of the US after they meet minimum stay requirements, which is usually five years of continuous stay in the US.
Pew Research Center estimates that most common regions from where legal immigrants hail from are different from those from where illegal immigrants come in. Legal Immigrants are more likely to belong to Asia (29 percent in 2014), followed by Europe and Canada (16 percent) and the Caribbean (12 percent).
In addition, legal immigrants are more likely to live in certain metropolitan areas than the general population. New York was home to 4.8 million legal immigrants in 2014, while Los Angeles was home to 3.5 million. Other metropolitan areas with significant Legal Immigrant population are Miami with 2 million, followed by Chicago (1.3 million), San Francisco (1.2 million) and Washington DC (1 million). It was estimated that 43 percent of legal immigrants live in the six aforementioned metropolitan areas.
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