Korean Immigrants in the United States

Allison O’Connor and Jeanne Batalova
Date of Publication: 
April, 2019
Source Organization: 
Migration Policy Institute

After the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 removed restrictions on Asian immigration to the U.S., the Korean immigrant population, almost entirely from South Korea, grew from 11,000 in 1960 to 1.1 million immigrants in 2010. In this updated profile, the Migration Policy Institute reports on the size, geographic distribution and socioeconomic characteristics of the Korean immigrant population. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau (2013-17 American Community Survey), the Department of Homeland Security 2017 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, World Bank annual remittance data, and the United Nations Population Division, the report points out that the Korean immigrant population had decreased slightly between 2010 and 2017, largely because improved political and economic conditions in South Korea have decreased incentives to migrate. However, despite this decrease, remittances have continued to grow, reaching $6.9 billion in 2018. In 2017, Korean immigrants represented 2.4 percent of the 44.5 million immigrants in the U.S. and are generally highly educated and of high socioeconomic standing. While Korean immigrants are more likely to hold a bachelor’s or advanced degree, they have lower workforce participation rates and are more likely to have limited English proficiency than the overall immigrant population. In the 2013-17 period, 40 percent of Korean immigrants were concentrated in the greater metropolitan areas of Los Angeles, New York and Washington, DC. (American Immigrant Policy Portal)

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O'Connor, A. & Jeanne Batalova. (2019). Korean Immigrants in the United States. Washington DC: The Migration Policy Institute. Available here: