Approximately 3.79 Chinese are living in the United States, 2.2 million of whom were born in China, according to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA). This number has doubled since 2000, and is mainly attributed to China’s growing middle and upper classes, who have let in droves to pursue education and business opportunities abroad.
According to Madeline Sumption, a senior policy analyst and assistant director for research in the international program at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, “There has been an astronomical increase in Chinese students coming to the US, driven by economic growth in China, improved educational infrastructure and a continued uncertainty about China’s trajectory.”
She continued, “Having an education outside China is viewed as being an insurance policy, and more and more parents are able to afford to take advantage of that.”
In 2000, 22,000 visas were issued to Chinese nationals in the US. In 2012, that number reached 189,000.
Other factors contributing to the substantial increase in immigration from China include lenient US immigration policies that encourage highly skilled workers, as well as a competitive, well-paying job market in the science and technology fields.
According to Karthick Ramakrishhan, associate professor of political science at the University of California, Riverside, the US is working to make its policies more competitive in drawing higher-educated immigrants equipped to work in high-skill industries.
Furthermore, immigration reform in the US will likely continue to prioritize the visas for highly skilled individuals. These visas, paired with the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, which is highly popular in China will continue to spur increases in US immigration.
Overall, the US remains the world’s most preferred destination for immigration. Since 1990, some 23 million immigrants have arrived on American soil.