E.g., 10/26/2016
E.g., 10/26/2016

Profile of Syrian Immigrants in the United States

Fact Sheets
November 2015

Profile of Syrian Immigrants in the United States

Approximately 86,000 Syrian immigrants resided in the United States in 2014, accounting for 0.2 percent of the nation's 42.4 million immigrants. Though the population remains a small one, its growth occurred largely after the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 abolished the national-origins quota system and opened the door to Syrians seeking safety from war and persecution, as well as education and employment opportunities and family reunification. Between 2010 and 2014, the population grew approximately, owing largely to the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

The majority of Syrian immigrants come to the United States through family reunification channels rather than as refugees or asylum seekers or through employment-based channels. Compared to the overall foreign and native-born populations, Syrian immigrants on average are significantly older, more highly educated, and less likely to participate in the labor force (because of lower workforce participation by women). However, employed Syrians are more likely to work in high-skilled occupations—particularly in the sectors of educational services, health care, and social assistance, and retail trade—and have higher earnings than the overall foreign or native-born populations.

Between October 1, 2011 and November 20, 2015, the United States resettled 2,261 Syrian refugees in 36 states. California, Texas, and Michigan were the top resettlement states for Syrians, drawing close to one-third of all Syrian refugees. Beyond the refugee resettlement program, Syrian nationals who are physically present in the United States or who arrive at a U.S. port of entry can apply for asylum status. An increasing number of Syrians received asylum status in recent years: the number rose from 60 in fiscal year (FY) 2011 to 364 in FY 2012, and more than doubled to 811 in FY 2013. 

This fact sheet provides information on the Syrian immigrant population in the United States, focusing on its size, geographic distribution, and socioeconomic characteristics.

Table of Contents 

I.    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Pathways

II.   Humanitarian Admissions

III.  Distribution Across the United States

IV.  Age, Education, and Employment

V.   English Proficiency and Language Diversity

VI.  Income and Poverty