California Immigration Statistics

Every year millions of people from different countries receive green cards, also known as permanent legal residence status, and earn the opportunity to apply for U.S. citizenship.

The Pew Research Institute finds that immigrants today account for almost 14% of the U.S. population.

Maison Law Immigration Lawyers decided to research the latest immigration statistics to find out how many recent immigrants call California home each year.

Nationwide Immigration Statistics for the United States

California welcomes the most immigrants of any state each year. California saw over 131,000 legal immigrants arrive in the state in the 2021 fiscal year. That led Florida (83,227), Texas (78,873), and New York (76,127) as the top immigration state.

Overall, 740,002 immigrants received permanent resident status in the fiscal year 2021 in the United States:


Immigrants with permanent residence status can usually apply for naturalization and become a citizen of the United States after living here for 5 years and meeting some other requirements. Service in the U.S. Military can speed up this process.

Statista reports that in the fiscal year of 2021, 813,861 people became naturalized citizens in the United States.

The U.S. Census Bureau finds that while statistics show a downward trend through 2021, 2022 figures will likely show a big rebound in immigration rates for the U.S.

It’s believed that the COVID-19 Pandemic slowed immigration for several reasons since 2020. The official numbers are still being examined as we move through 2023, but Census officials feel that 2022 numbers will show a big leap in immigration numbers.

California Immigration Statistics

If U.S. rates show a rebound in 2022 and 2023 in immigration, it stands to reason that California will also see a large share of that increase.

Previously, California’s immigration numbers over the past half-decade had been falling. This is a look at the figures from the past few fiscal years:


Immigration Statistics for California Cities and Counties

According to the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), California provided a new home for almost a quarter of the immigrants arriving in the U.S. over a five-year period from 2017-2021. That equated to 10,454,900 immigrants moving to California over that span.

MPI’s statistical figures combine estimates on the number of naturalized citizens, lawful permanent residents, certain legal nonimmigrants (e.g., persons on student or work visas), those admitted under refugee or asylee status, and persons illegally residing in California and the U.S.

Los Angeles County was the new address for 7% of those immigrants in 2021. It was the county that saw the biggest population of new immigrants. On a list of the United States counties that also accepted a higher percentage of immigrants, Miami-Dade County (3%) in Florida, Harris County in Texas (3%), and Queens County in New York (3%) followed.

Other California Counties welcomed a significant number of immigrants over this half-decade period. These are the top five destinations for immigrants to California:


Fresno County and Kern County also saw their share of immigrant arrivals over the same 5-year span. Fresno was home to 199,900 immigrants over that period, Kern County recorded 178,000 immigrant residents between 2019 and 2021.

What Countries Are California Immigrants Coming From?

Immigrants can be approved to move to the United States from almost any country in the world. The Department of Homeland Security approved green cards for almost 65,000 people from Africa in 2021. Around 69,000 new residents were granted permanent residency from South America. Around 60,000 came from Europe.

The MPI estimates that from 2017 to 2021 around 37 % of all immigrants (documented and undocumented) who moved to California came from Mexico. Around 9% were from China around 5% were from India.


The immigration rates from these countries followed similar ratios for the U.S. overall. An estimated 24% of the nation’s immigrants as of 2021 came from Mexico.


Contact a California Immigration Lawyer

Citizenship may seem like an impossible goal, but as the numbers show, millions of people earn permanent residency in the U.S. each year and successfully earn naturalized citizenship. Thousands of those people end up as California residents and get to enjoy work and family life in the Golden State.

Obtaining permanent residency and United States citizenship are confusing and complicated tasks. You’ll want a knowledgeable and effective Central Valley immigration lawyer at your side from the start.

If you intend on seeking U.S. citizenship or a green card, contact Maison Law Immigration Lawyers for a consultation. We want to see you reap the benefits, protections, and future that U.S. citizenship has to offer.