Office of Immigration Statistics
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The Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) is an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security under the Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans.
Since the passage of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Immigration Statistics has responsibility to carry out two statutory requirements: 1) to collect and disseminate to Congress and the public data and information useful in evaluating the social, economic, environmental, and demographic impact of immigration laws; and 2) to establish standards of reliability and validity for immigration statistics collected by the Department's operational Components.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 History
- 3 Mission, Vision, and Values
- 4 Strategic Plan Summary
- 5 Core Reports
- 6 Additional Reports
- 7 External links
- 8 References
Located within the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans and with a mission focused on data collection and analysis, the Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) is uniquely positioned to gather information from across the Department and the entire federal government and to perform these centralizing analytic and dissemination functions. In so doing, the Office provides critical support to three of the Department’s five core missions: Prevent Terrorism and Enhance Security (Mission 1), Secure and Manage Our Borders (Mission 2), and Enforce and Administer Our Immigration Laws (Mission 3).
The complexity of the immigration mission space drives further demand for high quality data and analysis from a range of policy stakeholders. The Department’s operational Components require cross-cutting data to complete certain enforcement activities and to adjudicate certain claims. Congress seeks regular and comprehensive reporting on immigration benefits, immigration enforcement, border security, and migration inflows. Under the Department’s analytic agenda, senior leaders rely on detailed operational data and outcome metrics for strategic planning. Other executive branch actors also depend on empirical analysis to monitor and refine immigration policy. Most importantly, a firm commitment to transparency anchored in the collection and dissemination of clear and credible immigration data is essential to combating widespread confusion and misinformation about immigration trends, and to contribute to a more informed policy debate.
Since 2015, the Department’s commitment to empirical analysis and transparency has driven a major rebuilding effort, along with an effort to integrate the Department’s diverse and disparate immigration data systems. The newly reinvigorated Office of Immigration Statistics brings a unified and coordinated approach to supporting the homeland security mission. In doing so, OIS will foster cooperation and collaboration among the Department’s Components to achieve a high level of quality data; to lead immigration research; to increase communication with partners, stakeholders, and customers; and to inform the Department’s overall decision-making process.
OIS builds on a nearly two-century legacy of collecting and summarizing data on immigration into the United States. Such reporting began with the “Steerage” (or “Passenger”) Act of March 2, 1819, which required the Secretary of State to report to each session of Congress on the age, sex, occupation, and origins of passengers on arriving vessels. The Department of State performed these duties until the early 1870s, after which responsibility shifted to the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Statistics, followed by the Department of Commerce and Labor in 1903, and then the Department of Labor in 1913. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was transferred from the Department of Labor to the Department of Justice in 1940, where it resided until 2003, when the components of INS were subsumed under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Section 103 of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 establishes OIS’s modern mandate: in consultation with interested academics, government agencies, and other parties, to provide Congress and the public, on an annual basis, with information about immigration and the impact of immigration laws. Section 701 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 transferred these duties from the Statistics Branch of the Office of Policy and Planning of the INS to the DHS Undersecretary for Management, and charged OIS with establishing standards of reliability and validity for immigration statistics. OIS currently sits within DHS’s Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans, and collects data from DHS’s various operational Components, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), as well as from other Federal agencies such as the Department of Justice, the Department of State, and the U.S. Census Bureau.
OIS meets these reporting mandates primarily through its flagship publication, The Yearbook of Immigration Statistics. The Yearbook reports on five immigration topics: lawful permanent residents, refugees and asylees, naturalizations, nonimmigrant admissions, and enforcement actions. In addition to the yearbook, OIS publishes annual flow reports and population estimates that provide additional details on trends within each of these areas, and the office publishes additional reports and fact sheets on special topics as the need arises.
Mission, Vision, and Values
The Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) mission, vision, and values provide the conceptual framework underlying all its objectives, goals, and projects.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics leads the collection and dissemination to Congress and the public of statistical information and analysis useful in evaluating the social, economic, environmental, and demographic impact of immigration laws, migration flows, and immigration enforcement; the Office establishes standards of reliability and validity for the Department’s immigration statistics; and the Office develops other immigration-related reports and conducts research at the direction of the Secretary.
- The U.S. government’s premier organization for immigration statistics and for analysis of immigration and immigration enforcement; recognized by the public, the federal partners, and the immigration research community for policy-relevant, accurate, timely, and credible immigration data, research, and analysis.
- The U.S. government leader for integration of all immigration-related data, systems and standards.
- The Department’s in-house think tank for Department-wide immigration research and analysis to provide cutting edge policy-relevant research, continuously engaging with our partners, stakeholders, and customers to maximize the relevance, quality, and reach of OIS research.
OIS values and respects its data partners, customers, and workforce, who are essential to the development, dissemination, and use of statistical information on immigration. Our organization and its people have three core values: PROFESSIONALISM, TRANSPARENCY, and TEAMWORK.
- Professionalism: OIS adheres to the highest professional standards for a statistical agency, always ensuring that our data are valid, reliable, and objective.
- Transparency: OIS is transparent about our methodology and data sources, and strives to make research and data readily accessible to Congress and the public.
- Teamwork: The OIS team works cooperatively toward common goals, in close collaboration with our data partners, customers, and other stakeholders.
Strategic Plan Summary
- Lead the DHS effort to integrate immigration-related data across the Federal Government.
- Improve the quality, timeliness, and utility of DHS immigration statistical data and analysis.
- Improve the dissemination of OIS products to inform policy-makers, Congress, and the public.
- Serve as an in-house DHS think-tank on immigration issues.
- Maintain a high-quality, motivated workforce and provide the environment to support it.
The Yearbook of Immigration Statistics
The Yearbook of Immigration Statistics is a compendium of tables that provides data on foreign nationals who, during a fiscal year, were granted lawful permanent residence (i.e., admitted as immigrants or became legal permanent residents), were admitted into the United States on a temporary basis (e.g., tourists, students, or workers), applied for asylum or refugee status, or were naturalized. The Yearbook also presents data on immigration enforcement actions, including alien apprehensions, removals, and returns.
Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs)
Lawful permanent residents (LPRs), also known as “green card” holders, are non-citizens who are lawfully authorized to live permanently within the United States. LPRs may accept an offer of employment without special restrictions, own property, receive financial assistance at public colleges and universities, and join the Armed Forces. They also may apply to become U.S. citizens if they meet certain eligibility requirements. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides several broad classes of admission for foreign nationals to gain LPR status, the largest of which focuses on admitting immigrants for the purpose of family reunification. Other major categories include economic and humanitarian immigrants, as well as immigrants from countries with relatively low levels of immigration to the United States.
The Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) Annual Flow Reports on LPRs contain information obtained from foreign nationals’ applications for LPR status on the number and characteristics of persons who became LPRs during a given fiscal year.
Refugees and Asylees
A refugee is a person outside his or her country of nationality who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her country of nationality because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. An asylee is a person who meets the definition of refugee and is already present in the United States or is seeking admission at a port of entry. Refugees are required to apply for Lawful Permanent Resident (“green card”) status one year after being admitted, and asylees may apply for green card status one year after their grant of asylum.
The Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) Annual Flow Reports on refugees and asylees contain information obtained from the Worldwide Refugee Admissions Processing System (WRAPS) of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration of the U.S. Department of State on the numbers and demographic profiles of persons admitted to the United States as refugees, and those applying for and granted asylum status during a given fiscal year.
Naturalization confers U.S. citizenship upon foreign nationals who have fulfilled the requirements Congress established in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). After naturalization, foreign-born citizens enjoy nearly all of the same benefits, rights, and responsibilities that the Constitution gives to native-born U.S. citizens, including the right to vote.
The Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) Annual Flow Reports on naturalization contain information obtained from naturalization applications on the number and characteristics of persons aged 18 years and older who became naturalized US citizens during a given fiscal year.
Nonimmigrants are foreign nationals granted temporary admission into the United States. The major purposes for which nonimmigrant admission may be authorized include temporary visits for business or pleasure, academic or vocational study, temporary employment, or to act as a representative of a foreign government or international organization, among others.
The Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) Annual Flow Reports on nonimmigrants contain information obtained from I-94 arrival records on the number and characteristics of nonimmigrant admissions to the United States during a given fiscal year.
Immigration Enforcement Actions
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) engages in immigration enforcement actions to prevent unlawful entry into the United States and to apprehend and repatriate aliens who have violated or failed to comply with U.S. immigration laws. Primary responsibility for the enforcement of immigration law within DHS rests with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). CBP enforces immigration laws at and between the ports of entry, ICE is responsible for interior enforcement and for detention and removal operations, and USCIS adjudicates applications and petitions for immigration and naturalization benefits.
The Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) annual Immigration Enforcement Actions reports contain information obtained from CBP and ICE case records and processed by OIS to describe the number and characteristics of foreign nationals found inadmissible, apprehended, arrested, detained, returned, or removed during a given fiscal year.
The Office of Immigration Statistics occasionally publishes population estimates of a particular subgroup. Population estimates take information on immigration flows and may combine it with other counts or estimates, such as those in the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS), as well as demographic life expectancy tables to give an idea of population size and characteristics in a given year. Terminology, data sources, and methodology may have shifted over time. Current series include population estimates for unauthorized immigrants, nonimmigrants, and lawful permanent residents.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) engages in immigration enforcement actions to prevent unlawful entry into the United States and to apprehend and repatriate aliens who have violated or failed to comply with U.S. immigration laws. In 2014, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced a number of measures to strengthen and unify the Department’s immigration enforcement priorities by concentrating resources on the arrest, detention, and removal of individuals identified as posing a threat to national security, public safety, or border security. The 2014 priorities emphasize criminal convictions over criminal arrests, and focus on felonies and significant or multiple misdemeanors over minor infractions of the law. The priorities also focus on forward-looking efforts to further reduce unlawful migration by targeting recent border crossers and those who significantly abuse the visa system.
Immigration Statistics Fact Sheets
In addition to its regularly published yearbook and flow reports, the Office of Immigration Statistics also occasionally publishes various shorter fact sheets on widely varying topics ranging from characteristics of those apprehended at the border in a given time period to reports on immigrants’ interstate migration between the acquisition of lawful permanent resident (LPR) status and citizenship. Reports may use Department of Homeland Security (DHS) data or publicly available data from other sources, such as from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Immigration Infographics produced by OIS describe key immigration topics such as the number and characteristics of lawful permanent residents, refugees and asylees, naturalizations, nonimmigrant admissions, and immigration enforcement actions.
The historical library was created in 1987 as part of the legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) History Office. Its mission is to track the agency history and the implementation of federal government immigration policy from 1891—when the federal government first created the Immigration Bureau—through its present time. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is now the government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the U.S.
- Homepage of the Office of Immigration Statistics
- Yearbook of Immigration Statistics
- Flow Reports
- Population Estimates
- Immigration Enforcement Priorities
- Data Visualization
- Fact Sheets
- Special Reports
- Reading Room
- Research Library
- Historical Library
- About OIS and Contact Information
- OIS Strategic Plan 2016-2020