Irish immigrants have been contributing to the cultural landscape in the United States for hundreds of years. Many cities in the U.S. boast communities of Irish immigrants that have continued to grow over the past few decades. Recurring economic struggles in Ireland have prompted many Irish people to come to the U.S. in search of new opportunities, and they are drawn to these established communities because of the sense of unity and familiarity. Ireland has recently increased its controls on immigration, but rising rates of unemployment, reduced job opportunities and falling salaries has motivated many more people to immigrate to the U.S.
Some Irish citizens come to the U.S. as tourists but begin working and choose to remain in the country, which explains why statistics on the number of immigrants from Ireland to the U.S. are difficult to find. However, major American cities like San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Boston have seen a sharp rise in the number of Irish immigrants arriving in the past few years. Ireland’s Central Statistics Office has released a report indicating that more than 20,000 individuals moved from Ireland to the United States between 2010 and 2013, which is more than double the number of immigrants for the previous three years.
Many Irish immigrants report a strong sense of connection between the U.S. and Ireland because they have family members and friends in America. The majority of the individuals leaving Ireland are in their 20s and are highly educated, but end up in working-class jobs because the Irish networks in the U.S. often lead them to stay in their own community of Irish immigrants. Some are able to secure permanent residency in a green card lottery, and others are sponsored by their employer. Many Irish people who want to work on their path to citizenship arrive in the U.S. on student visas, and some are eligible to work in the U.S. for a temporary period of time, which allows them to acclimate to the culture and find a job related to their degree.