Emigration from the United States

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Emigration from the United States is a complex demographic phenomenon existing for decades and having a number of reasons. The process is the reverse of the immigration to the United States.

For the first centuries of its existence, the US benefited from its low population density and had attracted large masses of immigrants, and it continues to be a net immigration country.

The United States does not keep track of emigration, and counts of Americans abroad are thus only available courtesy of statistics kept by the destination countries.


  • Economic reasons (e.g. inexpensive housing in Mexico[1])
  • Family reasons (most common with recent immigrants or permanent residents)
  • Marriage to a foreigner with a job in the foreign country[citation needed]
  • Business opportunities (e.g. American corporations in the Persian Gulf and East Asia)
  • Religious reasons
  • Political disenchantment/issues (e.g. communism to China)
  • Access to health insurance, and other health reasons (see Universal health care)
  • Evasion of legal liabilities (e.g. crimes, taxes, loans, etc.)

The United States is a net immigration country, meaning more people are arriving to the U.S. than leaving it. Many of the emigrants from the United States do not plan to become permanent emigrants, but to be expatriates (expats) for a limited amount of time. There is a scarcity of official records in this domain.[2] Given the high dynamics of the emigration-prone groups, emigration from United States remains indiscernible from temporary country leave.


As of 2009, there are over 6 million non-military U.S. citizens living abroad.,[3] an increase from the 4 million estimated in 1999.[4] However, these numbers are highly open to dispute as they often are unverified and can change rapidly.[5]

One reasonably "hard" indicator of the US citizens' population overseas is offered by the fact that often when they have a child born to them abroad, they obtain a Consular Report of Birth Abroad from a US consulate as a proof of the child's U.S. citizenship. The Bureau of Consular Affairs reports issuing 503,585 such documents over the decade 2000-2009. Based on this, and on some assumptions about the family composition and birth rates, some authors estimate the US civilian population overseas as between 3.6 and 4.3 million.[6]

Sizes of certain subsets of US citizens living abroad can be estimated based on statistics published by the Internal Revenue Service. US Citizens are generally liable for US income tax even if they reside overseas; however, if they receive earned income (wages, salaries, etc.) while residing in a foreign country, they can exclude an amount of foreign earned income from the US taxation or receive credit for foreign taxes paid. The IRS reported that almost 335,000 tax returns with such a foreign-earned income exclusion form were received in 2006.[7] This imposes a lower (and very imprecise) bound on the number of US citizens who were living and working in foreign countries at the time.

In the same tax year, almost 969,000 US taxpayers reported having paid foreign tax on "general limitation income" (i.e., income other than interest, dividends, and other "passive income") from foreign sources on their foreign tax credit forms.[7] Of course, not all of these were actually residing abroad full-time.


Americans can only lose their citizenship in a very limited number of ways, and anyone born to at least one American parent, or born on American soil, is considered to be an American citizen. It is not automatic for a child born abroad to one American parent to obtain US citizenship if the American parent itself has been living abroad for a long time.[8]

Few Americans living abroad renounce their citizenship, with the long-term trend being in the low-hundreds per year; this changed, however, after the United States government passed FATCA, requiring foreign banks to report information on American depositholders so as to prevent Americans from committing tax fraud by hiding their assets overseas. Almost 3,000 Americans renounced their citizenship in 2013 alone, many citing the new disclosure laws and difficulty in finding banks willing to engage in said reporting.[9]

Overseas US populations[edit]

The list below is of the main countries hosting American populations. Those shown first with exact counts are enumerations of Americans who have immigrated to those countries and are legally resident there, and does not necessarily include temporary expatriates (the number of Americans resident in Mexico, for example, is believed to be well over one million). In all other cases, starting with Israel, the figures are estimates of part-time US resident Americans and expatriates alike.

  1.  European Union - 800,000 (2013; all EU countries combined)
  2.  Mexico - 738,203 (2010)[10]
  3.  Canada - 311,215 (2011)[11]
  4.  Philippines - over 300,000[12]
  5. Israel Israel - 185,000[citation needed]
  6.  Italy (EU) - 170,000 to 200,000[citation needed]
  7.  United Kingdom (EU) - 158,000 (2013)[13]
  8.  Germany (EU) - 107,755 (2013)[14]
  9.  France (EU) - 100,619 (2008)[15]
  10.  Brazil - 98,000 up to 350,000 (See also Confederados, descendants of post-war Confederate settlers in Brazil)
  11.  Australia - 90,100 (2011)[16]
  12.  Japan - 88,000 (2011)[17]
  13.  Dominican Republic - 82,000[citation needed]
  14.  China - 71,493 (2010, Mainland China only)[18][19])
  15.  Spain (EU) - 63,362[citation needed]
  16.  South Korea - 67,000[citation needed]
  17.  Colombia - 60,000[20]
  18.  Hong Kong - 60,000[19]
  19.  United Arab Emirates - 40,000[citation needed]
  20.  Republic of China (Taiwan) - 38,000
  21.  Belgium (EU) - 36,000[citation needed]
  22.  Saudi Arabia - 36,000[citation needed]
  23.   Switzerland - 32,000[citation needed]
  24.  Poland (EU) - 31,000 to 60,000[citation needed]
  25.  Lebanon - 25,000[21]
  26.  Panama - 25,000[22]
  27.  New Zealand - 17,748 (2006)[23]
  28.  Sweden (EU) - 16,555 (2009)[24]
  29.  Austria (EU) 15,000[citation needed]
  30.  Hungary (EU) - 15,000[citation needed]
  31.  Singapore - 15,000[19]
  32.  Netherlands (EU) - 14,100 (2000)[25]
  33.  Ireland (EU) - 12,475 (2006)[26]
  34.  Argentina - 10,552[citation needed]
  35.  Chile - 10,000[citation needed]
  36.  Costa Rica - 9,128[27] to 50,000[28]
  37.  Denmark (EU) - 8,651 (2012)[29]
  38.  Norway - 8,013 (2012)[30]
  39.  Malaysia - 8,000[19]
  40.  Pakistan - 5,000[citation needed]
  41.  Uruguay - 3,000[31]
  42.  Portugal (EU) - 2,228 (2008)[32]
  43.  Russia - at least 2,008[33] up to 6,200[34]
  44.  Syria - n/a (in the 1975 Encyclopædia Britannica, 2.5% of Syrians reportedly have dual U.S.-Syrian citizenship)[citation needed]
  45.  India - n/a est. 10,000 to 15,000[35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://unstats.un.org/unsd/Demographic/meetings/egm/migrationegm06/DOC%2019%20ILO.pdf
  2. ^ http://unstats.un.org/unsd/Demographic/meetings/egm/migrationegm06/DOC%2019%20ILO.pdf#page=2
  3. ^ American Overseas Network
  4. ^ http://unstats.un.org/unsd/Demographic/meetings/egm/migrationegm06/DOC%2019%20ILO.pdf#page=4
  5. ^ Bill Masterson (2000), How Many Americans Really Live in Mexico? And Who Cares, Anyway?, peoplesguide.com 
  6. ^ These are our Numbers: Civilian Americans Overseas and Voter Turnout, By Dr. Claire M. Smith (Originally published: OVF Research Newsletter, vol. 2, issue 4 (Aug), 2010)
  7. ^ a b Individual Foreign-Earned Income and Foreign Tax Credit, 2006, pp. 54 (overall number), 57 (geographical distribution), 84 (foreign tax credit) at SOI Tax Stats - Individual Foreign Earned Income/Foreign Tax Credit
  8. ^ Birthright citizenship in the United States#Children born overseas to married parents
  9. ^ Why More Americans are Renouncing US Citizenship
  10. ^ Los extranjeros en México
  11. ^ 2011 Canadian census
  12. ^ >"Background Note: Philippines". U.S. Department of State: Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. January 17, 2012. 
  13. ^ 2013 - Office for National Statistics
  14. ^ https://www.destatis.de/DE/Publikationen/Thematisch/Bevoelkerung/MigrationIntegration/AuslaendBevoelkerung2010200137004.pdf?__blob=publicationFile
  15. ^ http://www.insee.fr/fr/themes/detail.asp?reg_id=0&ref_id=pop-immigree-pop-etrangere-2008
  16. ^ [1]. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2011. Last accessed 22 July 2014.
  17. ^ (http://www.japanmattersforamerica.org/2011/05/census-counts-japanese-in-us/)
  18. ^ 2010 Chinese Census (from Wikipedia article Demographics of the People's Republic of China)
  19. ^ a b c d http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/09800986-9ca1-11de-ab58-00144feabdc0.html
  20. ^ "Colombia (03/28/13)". Previous Editions of Hong Kong Background Note. United States Department of State. 28 March 2013. Retrieved 23 April 2013. Based on Colombian statistics, an estimated 60,000 U.S. citizens reside in Colombia and 280,000 U.S. citizens travel, study and do business in Colombia each year. 
  21. ^ see List of countries with foreign nationals in Lebanon
  22. ^ U.S. Relations With Panama 
  23. ^ 2006 Census, Statistics New Zealand
  24. ^ http://www.scb.se/statistik/_publikationer/BE0101_2009A01_BR_03_BE0110TAB.pdf
  25. ^ http://statline.cbs.nl
  26. ^ File:NonnationalsIreland2006.png
  27. ^ http://migracion.go.cr/planificacion/RESIDENTES%20ACTUA-30%20DE%20JUNIO%202007.pdf
  28. ^ http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2019.htm#relations
  29. ^ http://www.statistikbanken.dk
  30. ^ http://www.ssb.no/english/subjects/02/01/10/innvbef_en/tab-2012-04-26-04-en.html
  31. ^ "Immigration to Uruguay" (in Spanish). INE. Retrieved 6 March 2013. 
  32. ^ http://www.ine.pt/xportal/xmain?xpid=INE&xpgid=ine_indicadores&indOcorrCod=0001236&contexto=pi&selTab=tab0
  33. ^ Russian Census (2002), Basic Result: table 4.1. National composition of population, table 4.5. Population by citizenship, table 8.3. Population stayed temporarily on the territory of the Russian Federation by country of usual residence and purpose of arrival
  34. ^ Federal State Statistics Service, table 5.9. International Migration: in Russian, in English
  35. ^ Somini Sengupta (October 17, 2006), Americans head to India for high-tech jobs, The International Herald Tribune