The Immigration of Koreans to the United States: A Review of 45 Year (1965-2009) Trends

This paper reviews changes in patterns of Koreans’ immigration to the United States between 1965 and 2009 based on annual statistical reports by the immigration office. This review captures changes in the annual number of Korean immigrants, their immigration mechanisms and occupational characteristics, and the proportion of status adjusters. The annual number of Korean immigrants gradually increased for the first ten years, reached the peak between 1976 and 1990, gradually decreased in the 1990s, and slightly increased in the 2000s. The proportion of Korean immigrants in professional/technical and administrative/managerial occupations was drastically reduced in the 1970s and the 1980s, but has gradually increased since the early 1990. Over the past five years, Korean immigrants in these specialty occupations and their family members comprised the majority of annual Korean immigrants. Those who had previously entered the U.S. on various non-immigrant statuses and changed their status to permanent residents (status adjusters) comprised the vast majority of Korean immigrants during recent years. This is due to the presence of so many Korean non-immigrant temporary residents, including international students, in the United States.

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