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The 1970 census recorded 51,000 foreign born from India in the United States. By 2006, the number of Indian immigrants had grown nearly 30-fold to 1.5 million, making them the fourth largest immigrant group in the United States after the Mexican, Filipino, and Chinese foreign born.
More than half of Indian immigrants live in just five states although their numbers are growing rapidly elsewhere, notably in Sunbelt states such as Arizona, Alabama, North Carolina, and Florida (for more information on immigrants by state, please see the 2006 ACS/Census Data Tool on the MPI Data Hub).
Compared to other immigrant groups, the foreign born from India are highly educated, and Indian-born men have a higher rate of participation in the civilian labor force than other immigrant men.
This spotlight focuses on Indian immigrants residing in the United States, examining the population's size, geographic distribution, and socioeconomic characteristics using data from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2006 American Community Survey (ACS) and 2000 Decennial Census, and the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) for 2006 and 2007.
Note: Because immigrants of Indian origin who were born outside of India are likely to have different demographic characteristics than those born in India, this analysis focuses on immigrants born in India except where noted.
Click on the bullet points below for more information:
Size and Distribution
Demographic and Socioeconomic Overview
Legal and Unauthorized Indian Immigrant Population
Size and Distribution
There were 1.5 million foreign born from India residing in the United States in 2006.
The 1,519,157 Indian immigrants in 2006 was 6.5 times higher than the 206,087 Indian foreign born counted in the 1980 decennial census. In 2006, the Indian born were the fourth-largest foreign-born group in the United States after immigrants from Mexico, the Philippines, and China.
Indian immigrants made up slightly over 4 percent of all immigrants in 2006.
In 1960, Indian immigrants composed 0.1 percent of all foreign born in the United States. That share grew to 1.5 percent in 1980 and then more than doubled to 3.3 percent in 2000 (see Table 1). In 2006, Indian immigrants made up 4.0 percent of all immigrants.
One of every five immigrants of Indian ancestry in the United States was not born in India.
As a result of historical migrations, Indian-origin communities can be found throughout the world. Among the 1,734,337 immigrants residing in the United States in 2006 who reported having Indian ancestry regardless of their place of birth, 81.2 percent were born in India.
The remaining individuals reported a wide variety of birthplaces, including Guyana and British Guyana (4.1 percent), Pakistan (1.9 percent), Trinidad and Tobago (1.8 percent), and Bangladesh (1.1 percent) (see Figure 1).
More than half of all Indian immigrants resided in just five states.
In 2006, California had the largest number of Indian immigrants (302,712, or 19.9 percent), followed by New Jersey (172,959, or 11.4 percent), New York (144,417, or 9.5 percent), Texas (122,644, or 8.1 percent) and Illinois (114,760, or 7.6 percent). Together, these five states accounted for 56.4 percent (857,492) of all Indian-born immigrants.
New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA is the metropolitan area with the largest number of Indian born (275,368, or 18.1 percent), followed by Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL-IN-WI (103,709, or 6.8 percent), San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA (73,003, or 4.8 percent), Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA (68,927, or 4.5 percent), and San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA (67,598, or 4.4 percent) (see Map 1). These five metropolitan areas accounted for 38.7 percent of the 1.5 million Indian immigrants in 2006.
|Map 1. State Proportion of the Indian-Born Population in the United States (PDF)|
Please note: Due to compatibility issues, you may need to download the map to your computer in order for it to load properly.
The size of the Indian immigrant population more than doubled in five states and the District of Columbia between 2000 and 2006.
Between 2000 and 2006, five states and the District of Columbia, all of which had relatively small Indian-born populations, saw the size of their Indian immigrant populations more than double. These five states were Wyoming, Rhode Island, Maine, Arizona, and Washington (see Table 2).
Demographic and Socioeconomic Overview
More than a third of all Indian foreign born in the United States arrived in 2000 or later.
Of the 1.5 million Indian foreign born in the United States in 2006, 34.4 percent entered the country in 2000 or later, with 35.6 percent entering between 1990 and 1999, 17.3 percent between 1980 and 1989, 9.7 percent between 1970 and 1979, and the remaining 3.0 percent prior to 1970.
Three-quarters of Indian immigrants in 2006 were adults of working age.
Of the Indian immigrants residing in the United States in 2006, 6.6 percent were minors (under age 18), 75.0 percent were of working age (between ages 18 and 54), and 18.4 percent were seniors (age 55 or older).
Of the foreign-born population in the United States in 2006, 8.1 percent were minors, 69.9 percent were of working age, and 22.1 percent were seniors.
Men accounted for the majority of the Indian-born population living in the United States in 2006.
Of all Indian immigrants residing in the country in 2006, 53.6 percent were men and 46.4 percent were women.
Less than half of Indian immigrants were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2006.
Among the Indian foreign born, 42.0 percent were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2006, compared to 42.1 percent among the overall foreign-born population.
One in four Indian immigrants age 5 and older speaks Hindi at home.
In 2006, 26.3 percent of Indian immigrants age 5 and older reported speaking Hindi at home. Gujarathi (14.1 percent) was the next most popular language, followed by English (10.1 percent), Panjabi (10.0 percent), Telugu (9.7 percent), Tamil (6.7 percent), Malayalam (6.1 percent), Urdu (3.4 percent), Marathi (3.1 percent), Bengali (2.2 percent), and Kannada (1.7 percent).
About one-quarter of Indian immigrants in 2006 were limited English proficient.
About 10.1 percent of the 1.5 million Indian immigrants age 5 and older reported speaking "English only" while 63.0 percent reported speaking English "very well." In contrast, 26.9 percent reported speaking English less than "very well," which is much lower than the 52.4 percent reported among all foreign born age 5 and older.
(Note: The term limited English proficient refers to any person age 5 and older who reported speaking English "not at all," "not well," or "well" on their survey questionnaire. Individuals who reported speaking only English or speaking English "very well" are considered proficient in English).
About three of every four Indian foreign-born adults had a bachelor's or higher degree.
In 2006, 73.8 percent of the 1.3 million Indian-born adults age 25 and older had a bachelor's or higher degree compared to 26.7 percent among the 30.9 million foreign-born adults. About 40.5 percent of Indian-born adults age 25 and older had an advanced degree compared to 10.9 percent among all immigrants.
On the other end of the education continuum, about 8.5 percent of Indian immigrants had no high school diploma or the equivalent general education diploma (GED), compared to 32.0 percent among all foreign-born adults.
Indian immigrant men were more likely to participate in the civilian labor force than foreign-born men overall.
In 2006, Indian-born men age 16 and older were more likely to be in the civilian labor force (84.8 percent) than foreign-born men overall (79.3 percent). Indian-born women age 16 and older had a similar civilian labor force participation rate (55.9 percent) to all foreign-born women (55.1 percent).
Over one-quarter of Indian-born men were employed in information technology occupations.
Among the 629,218 Indian-born male workers age 16 and older employed in the civilian labor force, 27.4 percent reported working in information technology, and 20.0 percent reported working in management, business, and finance. Compared to other immigrants, Indian-born male workers age 16 and older employed in the civilian labor force were also more likely to report working as physicians, scientists and engineers, and in sales (see Table 3).
Both Indian foreign-born men and women were significantly less likely to be employed as construction, extraction, and transportation workers than foreign-born men and women overall.
Legal and Unauthorized Indian Immigrant Population
The Indian foreign born accounted for about 4.2 percent of all lawful permanent residents living in the United States in 2006.
According to data from the Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS), the Indian foreign born accounted for 4.2 percent (510,000) of the 12.1 million lawful permanent residents (LPRs, also known as green card holders) living in the United States in 2006. They are the third-largest LPR group after the Mexican born (27.3 percent or 3.3 milllion) and Filipino born (4.5 percent or 540,000).
About 886,000 Indians have gained lawful permanent residence in the United States since 1990.
Between 1990 and 2007, 886,316 Indian-born immigrants obtained lawful permanent residence in the United States (see Figure 2). The Indian born accounted for 6.2 percent (or 65,353) of the total 1.1 million immigrants who received lawful permanent residence in 2007.
Nearly half of Indian-born lawful permanent residents in 2007 were employment-sponsored immigrants.
Of the 65,353 Indian born granted LPR status in 2007, 43.9 percent (28,703) were employment-sponsored immigrants, 27.9 percent (18,205) were immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, 23.8 percent (15,551) were family-sponsored immigrants, and 4.1 percent (2,680) were refugees and asylees.
Indian-born lawful permanent residents accounted for 2.4 percent of all those eligible to naturalize as of 2006.
Indian-born LPRs are the 10th-largest group of permanent residents eligible to naturalize. According to OIS estimates, of the 8.3 million LPRs eligible to apply for citizenship as of 2006, 200,000 (2.4 percent) were born in India.
The Indian born were the fourth-largest group of student and exchange visitors admitted to the United States in 2006.
In 2006, the United States admitted 69,790 student and exchange visitors and their families from India, or 6.0 percent of the total. They are the fourth-largest student and exchange visitor group after the South Korean born (11.6 percent or 135,265), Japanese born (7.7 percent or 90,490), and Chinese born (6.0 percent or 70,503).
In 2006, 2.3 percent of all unauthorized immigrants in the United States were from India.
OIS has estimated that 270,000, or 2.3 percent, of the approximately 11.5 million unauthorized migrants in 2006 were born in India.
The number of unauthorized immigrants from India grew faster than the number of any other immigrant group between 2000 and 2006.
The estimated number of unauthorized immigrants from India has more than doubled since 2000, rising from 120,000 to 270,000 in 2006. This rate (125 percent) is faster than that of any other group between 2000 and 2006.
For information about ACS methodology, sampling error, and nonsampling error, click here.
Baker, Bryan. 2007. Trends in Naturalization Rates. December 2007. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Immigration Statistics. Available online.
Hoefer, Michael, Nancy Rytina, and Christopher Campbell. 2007. Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: January 2006. August 2007. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Immigration Statistics. Available online.
Rytina, Nancy. 2008. Estimates of the Legal Permanent Resident Population in 2006. February 2008. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Immigration Statistics. Available online.
U.S. Census Bureau. 2006 American Community Survey. Accessed from Steven Ruggles, Matthew Sobek, Trent Alexander, et al., Integrated Public Use Microdata Series: Version 3.0. Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota Population Center, 2004.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Immigration Statistics. 2007 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, Table 3: Persons Obtaining Legal Permanent Resident Status by Region and Country of Birth: Fiscal Years 1998 to 2007. Available online.