This spotlight focuses on the foreign born of Pakistani origin 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 and 2000 Decennial Census, and the Office of Immigration Statistics.
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Significant levels of Pakistani migration to the United States occurred after the 1965 amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Immigration from Pakistan to the United States consists of two phases: before and after the Immigration and Nationality Act amendments of 1965. The first period began when Pakistan gained statehood in 1947 (prior to 1947, the territory of modern Pakistan was part of India). The rate of immigration from Pakistan to the United States remained low from 1947 to 1965 due to the Luce-Celler Act of 1946, which removed a 29-year ban on South Asian immigration but placed tight limits on annual numbers.
Pakistani migration to the United States increased significantly in the second phase, after the passage of the 1965 amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act. These amendments eliminated the national-origins quota system and allocated about 20 percent of permanent immigrant visas to skilled professionals regardless of their country of origin. The majority of Pakistani immigrants who arrived between 1965 and the early 1980s came as skilled migrants. Since then, many Pakistini foreign born have entered the United States via family-reunification provisions, diversifying the socioeconomic and educational profile of the Pakistani immigrant population.
About 138,000 Pakistanis have gained lawful permanent residence in the United States since 1997.
Between 1997 and 2006, 137,963 Pakistani-born immigrants obtained permanent lawful residence in the United States (see Figure 1). The Pakistani born accounted for 1.4 percent (or 17,418) of the total 1.27 million immigrants who received lawful permanent residence in 2006.
There were about 271,000 foreign-born individuals of Pakistani origin residing in the United States in 2006.
According to the 2006 American Community Survey (ACS), there were 271,428 foreign born of Pakistani origin living in the United States in 2006.
Pakistani-origin immigrants residing in the United States in 2006 were born in more than 20 countries.
Of all Pakistani-origin individuals, 93.7 percent were born in Pakistan, 2.1 percent in India, and 1.6 percent in Bangladesh. The remaining 21 countries of birth, including the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Canada, Australia, and Hong Kong, accounted for less than 1 percent each.
Of all Pakistani-origin foreign born, more than a quarter entered the United States in 2000 or later.
Of the total foreign born of Pakistani origin resident in the United States in 2006, 26.4 percent entered the country in 2000 or later, 40.1 percent between 1990 and 1999, 21.7 percent between 1980 and 1989, 9.8 percent between 1970 and 1979, and the remaining 2.1 percent entered prior to 1970.
More than half of the Pakistani-origin foreign born lived in New York, California, Texas, and Illinois in 2006.
While the foreign born of Pakistani origin lived in all 50 states in 2006, 55.2 percent lived in just four states: New York (22.1 percent), California (13.1 percent), Texas (12.4 percent), and Illinois (7.6 percent). The top-10 states were home to 81.2 percent of all foreign born of Pakistani origin (see Table 1).
Half of the Pakistani-origin foreign born in 2006 lived in the New York, Houston, Chicago, Washington, DC, and Los Angeles greater metropolitan areas.
In 2006, 25.1 percent of the Pakistani-origin foreign born resided in New York, NY-NJ; 7.4 percent in Houston-Brazoria, TX; 7.4 percent in Chicago-Gary Lake, IL-IN; 6.3 percent in Washington, DC-MD-VA; and 3.8 percent in Los Angeles-Long Beach-Orange County, CA. Almost three quarters (62.7 percent) of all foreign born of Pakistani origin resided in the top-10 metropolitan areas (see Table 2, above, and Map 1).
|Map 1. Pakistani Foreign-Born Population in the United States by County, 2000 (PDF) (Note: this map shows only individuals born in Pakistan and who lived in the United States in 2000)|
Please note: Due to compatibility issues, you may need to download the map to your computer in order for it to load properly.
Three-quarters of Pakistani-origin foreign born were adults of working age.
Of the Pakistani-origin immigrants residing in the United States in 2006, 11.0 percent were minors (under age 18), 74.5 were of working age (between 18 and 54), and 14.5 percent were seniors (55 or older). Of the foreign-born population in the United States in 2006, 8.1 percent were minors, 60.2 percent were of working age, and 22.1 percent were seniors.
More than half of all Pakistani-origin immigrants were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2006.
According to 2006 ACS, 57.2 percent of the foreign born of Pakistani origin were naturalized U.S. citizens, compared to 42.0 percent among the foreign-born population.
More than 90 percent of Pakistani-origin immigrants age 5 and older spoke a language other than English at home.
Of the foreign born of Pakistani origin age 5 and older in 2006, 85.3 percent spoke one of the following languages at home: Urdu (71.9 percent), Hindi (2.2 percent), or other Indo-Aryan languages, such as Panjabi (5.7 percent), Bengali (0.4 percent), and Gujarathi (0.4 percent), among others.
The remaining 5.5 percent spoke a variety of languages, such as Persian, Pashto, Arabic, Spanish, Chinese, and Russian, reflecting this population's diverse countries of birth.
About a third of the foreign born of Pakistani origin were limited English proficient.
Nearly one in 10 (9.2 percent) of Pakistani-origin immigrants reported speaking English only while 58.4 percent reported speaking English "very well." About 32.4 percent reported being limited English proficient, compared to 52.4 percent 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).
The majority of Pakistani-origin foreign born had a bachelor's degree or higher.
In 2006, 56.2 percent of the 216,146 Pakistani-origin immigrant adults (age 25 and older) had attained a bachelor's degree or higher, compared to 26.7 percent among the 30.9 million foreign-born adults.
On the other end of the education continuum, 13.1 percent of Pakistani-origin adults did not have a high school diploma or GED, compared to 32.0 percent among all foreign-born adults.
Pakistani-origin immigrant adult men were more likely to participate in the civilian labor force than foreign-born men overall and twice as likely as Pakistani-origin immigrant women.
In 2006, of Pakistani-origin men age 25 and older (124,570), 87.4 percent were engaged in the civilian labor force compared to 80.8 percent of all foreign-born men. In contrast, Pakistani-origin foreign-born women age 25 and older (91,286) were less likely to be in the civilian labor force (42.8 percent) than foreign-born women overall (55.7 percent).
About a third of Pakistani-origin immigrant men were employed in either management and business or sciences and engineering occupations.
Among the 105,209 Pakistani-origin foreign-born men, age 25 and older and working in the civilian labor force, 14.6 percent reported working in science and engineering occupations, which is 2.5 times the rate among Pakistani-origin women, 1.7 times the rate among all foreign-born men, and 3.4 times the rate among foreign-born women (see Table 3).
Both Pakistani origin foreign-born men and women were significantly more likely to be physicians (five and eight times, respectively) than foreign-born men and women overall.
About one-fifth of Pakistani-origin foreign-born men and women were in sales occupations compared to less than one in 10 among foreign-born men and women.
In general, men were more likely to be in construction and manufacturing while women were more likely to be in education and training and administrative support occupations (see Table 3).
Smith, Jane I. "Patterns of Muslim Immigration." U.S. Department of State. 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. 2006 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, Table 3: Persons Obtaining Legal Permanent Resident Status by Region and Country of Birth: Fiscal Years 1997 to 2006. Available online.
For information about ACS methodology, sampling error, and nonsampling error, click here.