Special Report

10 Best States for Immigrants

Source: Thinkstock

10. Maryland
> Pct. foreign born: 14.5% (9th highest)
> Median household income: $71,081 (foreign-born), $75,279 (native-born)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 41.1% (foreign-born), 37.1% (native-born)
> Green cards issued in 2015: 381.5 per 100,000 (8th highest)

One of the wealthier states in the country, Maryland residents are better off than the average American by a number of socioeconomic measures, regardless of place of birth. Some 10.8% of foreign-born state residents live in poverty, far less than the 18.6% poverty rate for immigrants nationwide and just 1.0 percentage point more than the 9.8% poverty rate for U.S.-born Maryland residents. Nationwide, the poverty rate among immigrants is 3.6 percentage points greater than for natural-born citizens.

Source: Thinkstock

9. Hawaii
> Pct. foreign born: 17.7% (6th highest)
> Median household income: $63,081 (foreign-born), $70,828 (native-born)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 24.7% (foreign-born), 32.6% (native-born)
> Green cards issued in 2015: 463.1 per 100,000 (5th highest)

A popular destination of both domestic and international migrants, Hawaii is one of the best states for immigrants. The federal government has considered any person born in Hawaii a U.S. citizen since 1900, and the state’s population consisted of roughly 30% foreign-born residents when it gained statehood in 1959. Today, 18% of residents on the islands were born outside of the United States — the sixth largest share nationwide. Foreign-born residents of Hawaii are also more likely to be naturalized U.S. citizens than in most parts of the country. A number of ethnicities — Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and Korean — have established rich cultural heritages in Hawaii, making it easier for immigrants to move and assimilate into the state. Roughly 57% of immigrants in Hawaii have gained U.S. citizenship, the largest share of any state other than Vermont.

Source: Thinkstock

8. Florida
> Pct. foreign born: 19.7% (4th highest)
> Median household income: $41,518 (foreign-born), $49,431 (native-born)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 25.5% (foreign-born), 27.9% (native-born)
> Green cards issued in 2015: 605.1 per 100,000 (2nd highest)

Florida has accepted more immigrants in recent years than nearly any other state. The population grew by 3.7% from international migration between 2010 and 2016, more than any other state and roughly twice the national growth rate due to immigration. More than 40% of all Florida’s foreign-born population is from the Caribbean, and more than 25% is from South and Central America, both high shares compared to that of the nation as a whole. Approximately 605 green cards were issued per 100,000 state residents in the 2015 fiscal year, more than in any state other than New York.

While more foreign-born Floridians have been granted permanent resident status than most states combined over the last several years, the state has one of the larger wealth disparities between native- and non-native residents. The typical immigrant household in Florida earns roughly $8,000 less annually than the typical native-born household, far more than the $5,000 national figure.