Emigration from the United States

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 population 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.


Net effect

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 the United States remains indiscernible from temporary country leave.


As of 2014, there are over 8.7 million non-military U.S. citizens living abroad,[3][4] an increase from the 4 million estimated in 1999.[5] However, these numbers are highly open to dispute as they often are unverified and can change rapidly.[6]

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.[7]

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.[8] 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.[8] 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 has been living abroad for a long time.[9]

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 with bank accounts located outside of USA. 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.[10]

Overseas US populations

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, does not include those who were born there to one or two American parents, does not necessarily include those born in the US to parents temporarily in the US and moved with parents by right of citizenship rather than immigration, and does not necessarily include temporary expatriates (the numbers of Americans resident in Canada and Mexico, for example, are 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.

 European Union – 800,000 (2013; all EU countries combined)

  1.  Mexico – 738,203 (2010)[11]
  2.  Philippines – 600,000 (2015)[12]
  3.  Canada – 311,215 (2011)[13]
  4. Israel Israel – 185,000
  5.  Italy (EU) – 170,000 to 200,000
  6.  United Kingdom (EU) – 158,000 (2013)[14]
  7.  South Korea – 130,000 (2013)[15]
  8.  Germany (EU) – 107,755 (2013)[16]
  9.  France (EU) – 100,619 (2008)[17]
  10.  Brazil – 98,000 up to 350,000
  11.  Australia – 90,100 (2011)[18]
  12.  Japan – 88,000 (2011)[19]
  13.  Dominican Republic – 82,000
  14.  China – 71,493 (2010, Mainland China only)[20][21])
  15.  Spain (EU) – 63,362
  16.  Colombia – 60,000[22]
  17.  Hong Kong – 60,000[21]
  18.  United Arab Emirates – 40,000
  19.  Republic of China (Taiwan) – 38,000
  20.  Belgium (EU) – 36,000
  21.  Saudi Arabia – 36,000
  22.   Switzerland – 32,000
  23.  Poland (EU) – 31,000 to 60,000
  24.  Lebanon – 25,000[23]
  25.  Panama – 25,000[24]
  26.  New Zealand – 17,748 (2006)[25]
  27.  Sweden (EU) – 16,555 (2009)[26]
  28.  Austria (EU) 15,000
  29.  Hungary (EU) – 15,000
  30.  Singapore – 15,000[21]
  31.  Netherlands (EU) – 14,100 (2000)[27]
  32.  Ireland (EU) – 12,475 (2006)[28]
  33.  Argentina – 10,552
  34.  Chile – 10,000
  35.  Costa Rica – 9,128[29] to 50,000[30]
  36.  Denmark (EU) – 8,651 (2012)[31]
  37.  Norway – 8,013 (2012)[32]
  38.  Malaysia – 8,000[21]
  39.  Guatemala – 5,417 (2010)[33]
  40.  Pakistan – 5,000
  41.  Uruguay – 3,000[34]
  42.  Portugal (EU) – 2,228 (2008)[35]
  43.  Russia – at least 2,008[36] up to 6,200[37]
  44.  Syria – n/a (in the 1975 Encyclopædia Britannica, 2.5% of Syrians reportedly have dual U.S.-Syrian citizenship)
  45.  India – n/a est. 10,000 to 15,000[38]

See also

Americans in Ecuador 7,500


  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. http://travel.state.gov/content/dam/travel/CA%20by%20the%20Numbers-%20May%202015.pdf
  4. American Overseas Network Archived April 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. http://unstats.un.org/unsd/Demographic/meetings/egm/migrationegm06/DOC%2019%20ILO.pdf#page=4
  6. Bill Masterson (2000), How Many Americans Really Live in Mexico? And Who Cares, Anyway?, peoplesguide.com
  7. 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)
  8. 1 2 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
  9. Birthright citizenship in the United States#Children born overseas to married parents
  10. Why More Americans are Renouncing US Citizenship
  11. Los extranjeros en México
  12. National Journal: " At the same time, person-to-person contacts are widespread: Some 600,000 Americans live in the Philippines and there are 3 million Filipino-Americans, many of whom are devoting themselves to typhoon relief."
  13. 2011 Canadian census
  14. 2013 - Office for National Statistics
  15. "U.S. Citizen Services". Embassy of the United States Seoul, Korea. United States Department of State. Retrieved December 11, 2012. This website is updated daily and should be your primary resource when applying for a passport, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, notarization, or any of the other services we offer to the estimated 120,000 U.S. citizens traveling, living, and working in Korea.
    "North Korea propganda video depicts invasion of South Korea, US hostage taking". Advertiser. Agence France-Presse. March 22, 2013. Retrieved March 23, 2013. According to official immigration figures, South Korea has an American population of more than 130,000 civilians and 28,000 troops.
  16. https://www.destatis.de/DE/Publikationen/Thematisch/Bevoelkerung/MigrationIntegration/AuslaendBevoelkerung2010200137004.pdf?__blob=publicationFile
  17. http://www.insee.fr/fr/themes/detail.asp?reg_id=0&ref_id=pop-immigree-pop-etrangere-2008
  18. . Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2011. Last accessed 22 July 2014.
  19. (http://www.japanmattersforamerica.org/2011/05/census-counts-japanese-in-us/)
  20. 2010 Chinese Census (from Wikipedia article Demographics of the People's Republic of China)
  21. 1 2 3 4 http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/09800986-9ca1-11de-ab58-00144feabdc0.html
  22. "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.
  23. see List of countries with foreign nationals in Lebanon
  24. U.S. Relations With Panama
  25. 2006 Census, Statistics New Zealand
  26. http://www.scb.se/statistik/_publikationer/BE0101_2009A01_BR_03_BE0110TAB.pdf
  27. http://statline.cbs.nl
  28. File:NonnationalsIreland2006.png
  29. http://migracion.go.cr/planificacion/RESIDENTES%20ACTUA-30%20DE%20JUNIO%202007.pdf
  30. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2019.htm#relations
  31. http://www.statistikbanken.dk
  32. http://www.ssb.no/english/subjects/02/01/10/innvbef_en/tab-2012-04-26-04-en.html
  33. (Spanish) Perfil Migratorio de Guatemala Organización Internacional para las Migraciones (OIM) (2012)
  34. "Immigration to Uruguay" (PDF) (in Spanish). INE. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
  35. http://www.ine.pt/xportal/xmain?xpid=INE&xpgid=ine_indicadores&indOcorrCod=0001236&contexto=pi&selTab=tab0
  36. 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
  37. Federal State Statistics Service, table 5.9. International Migration: in Russian, in English
  38. Somini Sengupta (October 17, 2006), Americans head to India for high-tech jobs, The International Herald Tribune
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