Where Foreign-Born Residents and Foreign-Sourced Investment Coincide



New U.S. citizens take the oath of allegiance at a naturalization ceremony at the USCIS New Jersey Central Field Office, in a state where 23.19% of residents today are estimated to be foreign-born.

The people come from different points of origin than the corporate investment. But are there states where high numbers of foreign-born individuals coincide with high numbers of foreign-sourced corporate facility investment?

Comparing five years of project data from Site Selection’s Conway Projects Database to figures released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau on the U.S. foreign-born population finds the answer to be three states — California, New York and Texas — when FDI projects are held up next to percentage of foreign-born residents. When compared by straight tally of foreign-born residents, the number jumps to six states, as Illinois, Georgia and Virginia join the mix.

The new Census Bureau data offer a plethora of insights, including these:

  • “From 2010 to 2022, the nation’s foreign-born population increased by 15.6% … The foreign-born population was 46.2 million (13.9% of the total population) in 2022 compared to 40.0 million (12.9% of the total population) in 2010.”
  • “In Delaware, North Dakota, South Dakota and West Virginia, the foreign-born populations grew by 40% or more.”
  • “Harris County, Texas, had the largest increase, followed by Miami-Dade County, Florida, and King County, Washington.”
  • “From 2010 to 2022, the median age of the foreign-born population increased by over five years (from 41.4 to 46.7), while the median age of the native population rose by only one year (from 35.9 to 36.9).”
  • “A higher percentage of foreign-born individuals completed high school or higher in 2022 (75.1%) than in 2010 (68.3%).”
  • Immigrants made up over one-fifth of the population in four states: California (26.5%), New Jersey (23.2%), New York (22.6%) and Florida (21.1%).
  • Almost one-half (49.1%) of all immigrants in the United States entered the country before 2000.
  • An estimated 63.5% of the foreign-born population (16 years and older) was employed, with over one-third of the civilian employed foreign-born population (16 years and older) in management, business, science and arts occupations.



A fair percentage of the foreign-born employed comprises those awaiting green card approval from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), including a huge backlog from India, a source of tens of thousands of professionals who have lived, paid taxes and been productive employees in the U.S. for a decade or more while awaiting approval. India’s Economic Times reported in February that “only 3% of green card applicants in the U.S. are expected to get permanent status in FY 2024, leading to a backlog of 34.7 million pending applications.”

That includes a backlog of 1.8 million employment-based green card applications as of March 2023, only 8% of which are expected to gain approval in FY2024. Those green cards are capped at 140,000. According to a recent report from EB5AN, an organization that seeks to help foreign investors gain citizenship through the EB-5 program, “based on the March 2024 visa bulletin data, the minimum wait time to file for adjustment of status through EB-2 for an Indian national is around 12 years, with some estimations reaching over 100 years. According to a recent analysis by the Cato Institute, more than 400,000 Indian workers residing in the U.S. and seeking an employment-based green card are confronted with a wait time of 134 years.”

USCIS in February announced it had completed an unprecedented 10 million immigration cases in fiscal year 2023, reducing the backlog for the first time in a decade. The agency said it administered the Oath of Allegiance to more than 878,500 new U.S. citizens, including 12,000 members of the military. However, the backlog is still significant. “By the end of FY 2023, the USCIS net backlog (cases pending outside of target processing times) was 4.3 million cases,” the agency stated, “down over 760,000 (15%) from more than 5 million cases at the end of FY 2022.”

According to a USCIS release, the agency and the Department of State in FY2023 “helped meet the needs of U.S. employers by issuing more than 192,000 employment-based immigrant visas — far above the pre-pandemic number — and for the second year running ensured that no available visas went unused.” That said, Bloomberg reported in November that nearly 9 million immigrant applications and petitions were awaiting a decision at USCIS.

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The Census Bureau report says while an estimated 23.2 million foreign-born residents (half the total) come from Latin America and the Caribbean, a not insignificant 14.3 million hail from Asia, comprising more than 31%. European- and Asian-born “were the most likely to be U.S. citizens, with naturalization rates of 67.4% and 62.8%, respectively. Naturalization rates were lowest among the foreign-born from Oceania and Latin America.”

The report also states that in both 2010 and 2022, Latin America was the most prevalent region of origin of foreign-born residents. “However, the composition of its migrants shifted over the course of the decade. By 2022, the number of foreign-born from South America and Other Central America increased by 2.1 million, while the count of those born in Mexico decreased by about 1.0 million. The shares of foreign-born from Asia and Africa increased between 2010 and 2022. The Asian-born population rose from 28.2% to 31.1% of the foreign-born population, while the African-born share grew from 4.0% to 6.0%.”

A separate report issued early this year by the Center for Migration Studies of New York found that the undocumented population from Asia declined by 115,000 from 2015 to 2021 and then increased by 140,000 in 2022. “California, Texas, Florida, New York, and New Jersey had the largest undocumented populations in 2022,” the report found, aligning with leading states in the Census Bureau’s tally of overall foreign-born residents. The total undocumented population in those five states increased by 300,000 in 2022, the Center for Migration Studies reported.

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Where the FDI Comes From

FDI data maintained by SelectUSA include state profiles that feature a breakdown by top countries of origin. According to fDi Markets data from the decade ending in June 2023, here’s where the FDI comes from in the six states that make Site Selection’s top 10 FDI facility projects list and the top 10 by foreign-born residents:

  • California: UK (20%), Germany (8%), China (8%), Japan (8%), Canada (7%)
  • Georgia: Germany (15%), Japan (12%), UK (10%), South Korea (8%), Canada (7%)
  • Illinois: UK (19%), Germany (13%), Canada (8%), Japan (8%), Switzerland (6%)
  • New York: UK (30%), France (8%), Canada (8%), Israel (5%)
  • Texas: UK (20%), Germany (8%), Canada (8%), Japan (8%), France (5%)
  • Virginia: Germany (14%), UK (10%), Japan (9%), Canada (9%), Switzerland (6%)

Site Selection’s Conway Projects Database data for this exercise include only facility-related FDI meeting minimum criteria (at least $1 million invested, 20 new jobs or 20,000 new sq. ft.) and taking place in the past five years. Here are the project numbers from those same six states:

State Conway Data FDI Projects (since Jan. 2019)
California 110
Georgia 189
Illinois 149
New York 128
Texas 352
Virginia 87

Where available, Site Selection records announced project-related job creation and capital investment figures but leaves data fields blank when the information is not available. That said, our data show Texas as the leader in overall FDI-related capital investment at $52.5 billion, just ahead of Arizona at $49.1 billion and Georgia at $46.2 billion. All three states have seen their numbers boosted by new semiconductor or EV/battery-related projects in the past few years.

By job count, Georgia takes the cake with 52,262 jobs, followed by Texas with 30,785 and Michigan with 26,265, just ahead of North Carolina with 23,842. — Adam Bruns and Daniel Boyer

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