China in 2018 replaced Mexico as the top sending country. After immigrants from Mexico and India, the Chinese represented the third largest group in the U.S. foreign-born population of nearly 45 million in 2018, with 2.5 million persons.
Chinese immigration in the United States has a long and fraught history. In response to negative public sentiments and organized labor lobbying, Congress in 1882 passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, the first legislation aimed at excluding certain foreigners based on their origin.
The 1965 amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act removed barriers for non-European immigration to the United States and created temporary worker programs for skilled workers. Chinese authorities relaxed emigration controls in 1978, and U.S.-China relations were normalized in 1979, beginning a second wave of Chinese migration to the United States.
China is the main source of foreign students enrolled in U.S. higher education In the 2018-19 school year, close to 377,000 students, or one third of all international students.
Chinese nationals received the second-largest number of employer-sponsored H-1B temporary visas in fiscal year 2018, after Indians. Chinese nationals received nearly half of EB-5 investor green cards in 2018.
The United States is the top destination for Chinese immigrants, accounting for almost 27 percent of the more than 12 million Chinese living outside of China. Other popular destinations include Canada (920,000).
Roughly half of Chinese immigrants reside in just two states: California (32 percent) and New York (19 percent).