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Foreign Born and Immigrants Overall

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Foreign Born and Immigrants Overall

Key Facts Foreign Born Population Transformation Overall

The Washington, D.C. metropolitan area is one of the most diverse in the country when taking into consideration the minority and foreign born (immigrant) population make-up.  Northern Virginia contains a sizable amount of the metropolitan area's diverse population.  The foreign born or immigrant population is transforming the region.  Note, the terms foreign born and immigrant are used interchangeably throughout the NOVA Region Dashboard.

It is immigration that has been driving many of the major demographic trends in the region, including:

  • School enrollment changes

  • Sizable increases in the number of Hispanics and Asians

  • Population and labor force growth

Foreign Born Population Share - Current

2014 to 2018 Five-Year Estimates

All jurisdictions in the United States are included in the five-year American Community Survey estimates. The share of the population that is foreign born, for all jurisdictions in Northern Virginia, is displayed in this graph. Northern Virginia's foreign born population share is 27.4%. All Northern Virginia jurisdiction's have a foreign born population share that is greater than the Commonwealth of Virginia and the United States. Out of all 3,142 jurisdictions in the USA, all are ranked #135 or higher. The region's highest ranked are Manassas Park City (13th) and Fairfax (22nd), both of which have a greater foreign born population share than New York County, New York (Manhattan) (34th). Back in 2000, all jurisdictions in Northern Virginia had a foreign born population share that was less than Manhattan. These high ranks of the region's jurisdictions are indicative of a transforming region and the very diverse population of Northern Virginia and the DC metropolitan area.

2019 One-Year Estimates

Those jurisdictions with a population of 65,000 or more are included in the one-year American Community Survey estimates. The share of the population that is foreign born, for all jurisdictions in Northern Virginia, is displayed in this graph. All Northern Virginia jurisdiction's have a foreign born population share that is greater than the Commonwealth of Virginia and the United States. Out of the 829 jurisdictions with a population of 65,000 or more in the USA, all are ranked #55 or higher, with the region's highest ranked, large jurisdiction being Fairfax (17th). Fairfax has a slightly greater foreign born population share than New York County, New York (Manhattan) (25th) and Orange County, California (18th). Back in 2000, all jurisdictions in Northern Virginia had a foreign born population share that was less than Manhattan.  These high and changing ranks for the region's jurisdictions are indicative of the very diverse population and a transforming region of Northern Virginia and the DC metropolitan area.

Foreign Born Population Share - Historic Compared to Current

Immigration has been driving many of the major demographic trends in the region. The foreign born population is transforming the region.  Northern Virginia's population was 21.4% foreign born in 2000 and has risen to 27.7% (2014-2018 ACS 5Yr Estimate).  Similar to today, back in 2000 all Northern Virginia jurisdictions had a foreign born population share that was greater than the Commonwealth of Virginia and the United States. What is different is that all jurisdictions in the region, except Arlington, have seen their foreign born population share increase. The greatest transformations have occurred in the four outer-core jurisdictions of Loudoun, Manassas City, Manassas Park, and Prince William. These four outer-core jurisdictions are the same jurisdictions that comprise a majority of the region's overall population growth.

Foreign Born Population - Trend

The foreign born population trend, for the regions large jurisdictions (population of 65,000 or more), is shown in the following graphs. The legal status of non-citizens is unknown and not collected by the U.S. Census Bureau in any of its data sets. 

Key Facts:

  • Loudoun and Prince William Counties have been on the rise in their total foreign born population from 2010 to 2018. 

  • Fairfax County's foreign born population was on the rise from 2010 to 2017.  Between 2017 and 2018 there was a decline in Fairfax County.  From 2018 to 2019 this population held fairly steady and 2019 was not statistically different from 2018.

  • Alexandria and Arlington's foreign born population varies from year-to-year, creating no upward or downward trend.

  • Overall, from 2011 to 2017 the region's large jurisdictions combined had experienced an increase.  

  • Overall, from 2017 to 2018 the region's large jurisdictions combined saw a decline of approximately 10,000.  Between 2017 and 2018 there were increases in the region's naturalized citizen population.  Therefore, the absolute decrease was attributable to non-citizen populations migrating out of the area in greater amounts than naturalized citizens moving into the area.  For comparison, from 2017 to 2018 the nation experienced its smallest increase in the foreign born population since 2010.  Like the region, the nation experienced an increase in naturalized citizens and a decline in non-citizens from 2017 to 2018. The nation's slow growth was attributable to an absolute decline in the number of non-citizens.

  • Overall, from 2018 to 2019 the region's large jurisdictions combined experienced minimal change in the foreign born population.  The naturalized and non-citizen population also experienced minimal change.