In the past 20 years, there has been a 200 percent increase in African immigrants to the United States from countries like Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt, Ghana and Kenya. According to a study called “New Streams: Black African Migration to the United States,” Black Africans are among the fastest-growing groups of U.S. immigrants who are traveling here seeking U.S. citizenship. In 2009, African immigrants of all races made up about 4 percent of the nation’s total of 38 million immigrants.
Another study conducted by Rice University showed that Nigerian-Americans are the most educated group of individuals in America, as they are much likely to attend college than any other immigrant group. According to census data, Nigerian immigrants surpassed whites and Asians as the group with the highest level of education – 17 percent of Nigerians in the United States hold a master’s degree, 4 percent a doctorate and 37 a bachelor’s.
In 2007, the Pew Hispanic center estimated that 30 percent of all immigrants in the United States were in the country illegally, and had either crossed a border or overstayed a valid visa. Black African immigrants were estimated at a lower rate of 21 percent unauthorized individuals, coming to about 200,000 people. The study also found that 25 percent of Black Africans entered the country as refugees, 26 percent were legal permanent residents and 26 percent were naturalized with U.S. citizenship. Africans were found to have entered the country as refugees fleeing persecution or fear of persecution compared with any other immigrant.
These immigrants have likely entered the country through family reunification, employment or diversity visa programs. In addition, a small number of people were admitted as temporary immigrants, like those who are students or obtained a temporary work visa.