Canadians have a long history of migrating to the United States. In 1850, when the census first collected data on the nativity of the population, there were 148,000 Canadian foreign born residing in the country. By 1910, the Canadian immigrant population had peaked at 1.2 million. Since 1970, the number of Canadian foreign born has remained at approximately 800,000. This Spotlight examines the size, growth, and geographic distribution of the foreign born from Canada.
Canadian foreign-born population, for the United States: 1990 and 2000
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 820,771 immigrants from Canada in the United States in 2000.
The foreign born from Canada (820,771) made up the eighth-largest immigrant group in 2000, following the foreign born from Mexico (9.2 million), the Philippines (1.4 million), India (1.0 million), China (excluding Hong Kong and Taiwan) (988,857), Vietnam (988,174), Cuba (872,716), and Korea (North and South) (864,125).
Of the 31.1 million foreign born in the United States, 2.6 percent were immigrants from Canada, according to the results of Census 2000.
According to Census 2000, California had the largest number of foreign born from Canada (141,181), followed by Florida (99,139). The remaining 10 states with the largest number of immigrants from Canada include New York (54,876), Michigan (49,515), Washington (47,568), Massachusetts (40,247), Texas (36,802), Arizona (26,323), Illinois (19,098), and Connecticut (19,083).
The foreign-born population from Canada increased from 744,830 in 1990 to 820,771 in 2000, or by 75,941 people, according to the results of Census 2000. This represents an increase of 10 percent.
The results of Census 2000 show that in one state—North Carolina—the foreign-born population from Canada more than doubled (116 percent). In three additional states—Georgia (93 percent), South Carolina (71 percent) and Tennessee (71 percent)—the foreign-born population from Canada increased by over 70 percent between 1990 and 2000. In California, the state with the largest absolute number of immigrants from Canada, the Canadian foreign-born population decreased by 6 percent over the same period.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the foreign-born population from Canada in North Carolina grew from 6,630 in 1990 to 14,317 in 2000, representing a 116 percent increase. Among all states and the District of Columbia, North Carolina ranked fourth in numeric growth and first in the percent growth of its immigrant population from Canada. For Georgia, the foreign-born population from Canada increased from 7,251 in 1990 to 14,026 in 2000, representing a 93 percent increase. Georgia ranked fifth in its numeric growth and second in the percent increase of its Canadian immigrant population. Four other states, including Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and Texas, are also among the states with the largest percent and numeric increases in their Canadian immigrant populations between 1990 and 2000.
According to the results of Census 2000, immigrants from Canada account for 0.3 percent of the total population. Only in three states—Vermont (1.3 percent), Maine (1.2 percent), and New Hampshire (1.0 percent)—did the foreign born from Canada make up at least 1 percent of the total state population.
For fiscal year 2002, 1.1 million foreign born received permanent resident status, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Of those 1.1 million, 19,519 were foreign born from Canada, representing 1.8 percent of all those who received permanent resident status.
In 2002, 573,708 immigrants became United States citizens, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Of those, 7,591 were foreign born from Canada, representing 1.3 percent of all those who naturalized in 2002.
According to Department of Homeland Security data for fiscal year 2002, 133,367 or 10.3 percent of the nearly 1.3 million nonimmigrants admitted as temporary workers, exchange visitors, and intracompany transferees in the United States were Canadian foreign born.
Of the 73,699 workers admitted to the United States under the North American Free Trade Agreement (see related story), 71,878 or 98 percent were immigrants from Canada, according to fiscal year 2002 data from the Department of Homeland Security.