From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Foreign-born (also non-native) people are those born outside of their country of residence. Foreign born are often non-citizens, but many are naturalized citizens of the country in which they live, and others are citizens by descent, typically through a parent.

The term foreign born encompasses both immigrants and expatriates but is not synonymous with either. Foreign born may, like immigrants, have committed to living in a country permanently or, like expatriates, live abroad for a significant period with the plan to return to their birth-country eventually.

The status of foreign born — particularly their access to citizenship — differs globally. The large groups of foreign-born guest workers in the Gulf Cooperation Council states, for example, have no right to citizenship no matter the length of their residence. In the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the United States, by contrast, foreign born are often citizens or in the process of becoming citizens. Certain countries have intermediary rules: in Germany and Japan it is often difficult but not impossible for the foreign born to become citizens.


The adjective foreign-born has two potential meanings:

  • "born in a country other than that in which one resides." [1]
  • "foreign by birth." [2]

The United Nations uses the first definition to estimate the international migrant stock, whenever this information is available. In countries lacking data on place of birth, the UN uses the country of citizenship instead. [3]

On the other hand, the United States Census Bureau defines foreign-born as "anyone who is not a U.S. citizen at birth", which includes persons who have become U.S. citizens through naturalization but excludes persons born abroad to a U.S. citizen parent or parents.

According to the UN: "Equating international migrants with foreign citizens when estimating the migrant stock has important shortcomings. In countries where citizenship is conferred on the basis of jus sanguinis, people who were born in the country of residence may be included in the number of international migrants even though they may have never lived abroad. Conversely, persons who were born abroad and who naturalized in their country of residence are excluded from the stock of international migrants when using citizenship as the criterion to define international migrants." [3]

Trends by country

Share of migrants in all countries. Data from 2015.

The percentage of foreign born in a country is the product mostly of immigration rates, but is also affected by emigration rates and birth and death rates in the destination country. For example, the United Kingdom and Ireland are destination countries for migrants from Eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia, but are themselves source countries for immigration to other English-speaking countries.

The Holy See is unique in having 100% of its population foreign-born, while Cuba is unique in having 0% of its population foreign-born. The region with the highest rate is Oceania, with 21%, while Asia has less than 1%.

Countries with immigration rates above 25% tend to be wealthy countries with relatively open migration or labour laws, including Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and the Persian Gulf states.

The largest foreign-born population in the world is in the United States, which was home to 39 million foreign-born residents in 2012, or 12.6% of the population. [4]

Cities with largest foreign born populations

Rank City Country Estimate Source Foreign-Born Population Percentage
1 London United Kingdom ONS 2018 3,236,000 [5] 36.4%
2 New York United States 2016 ACS 3,200,219 [6] 37.5%
3 Paris France Unité urbaine de Paris, INSEE 2020 2,282,524 [7] 21%
4 Sydney Australia 2016 Census 1,961,977 [8] 45.4%
5 Melbourne Australia 2016 Census 1,784,794 [9] 41.3%
6 Los Angeles United States 2016 ACS 1,499,418 37.7%
7 Toronto Canada Canada 2021 Census 1,431,380 [10] [a] 51.9%
8 Berlin Germany Berlin-Brandenburg office of statistics, 2021 789,076 21%
9 Madrid Spain 2019 Spain Census 726,669 22.2%
10 Auckland New Zealand Statistics New Zealand 2018 714,480 41.6%
11 Montréal Canada Canada 2021 Census 705,900 [11] [a] 40.9%
12 Houston United States 2016 ACS 698,395 30.3%
13 Brisbane Australia 2016 Australian Census 682,132 [12] 33.2%
14 Chicago United States 2016 ACS 559,623 20.7%
15 Calgary Canada Canada 2021 Census 457,665 [13] [a] 35.4%
16 Mississauga Canada Canada 2021 census 406,455 [14] [a] 57%
17 San Jose United States 2016 ACS 402,776 39.3%
18 Vienna Austria wien statistik 2019 395,720 16%
19 Brampton Canada Canada 2021 census 383,695 [15] [a] 59.1%
20 San Diego United States 2016 ACS 373,842 26.7%
21 Bogotá Colombia 2019 352,431 5%
22 Edmonton Canada Canada 2021 Census 348,295 [16] [a] 34.9%
23 Hamburg Germany 2021 ACS 341,759 24.7%
24 Milan Italy Istat 2011 324,378 [17] 10.7%
25 Vancouver Canada Canada 2021 Census 317,190 [18] [a] 48.8%
26 Birmingham United Kingdom ONS 2021 305,963 25.6%
27 San Francisco United States 2016 ACS 296,849 34.9%
28 Ottawa Canada Canada 2021 Census 288,835 [19] 28.9%
29 Surrey Canada Canada 2021 census 285,620 [20] [a] 50.8%
30 Amsterdam Netherlands Statistics Netherlands 2019 277,431 32.1%
31 Miami United States 2016 ACS 264,656 58.3%
32 Stockholm Sweden Statistics Sweden 2019 248,708 25.5%
33 Lyon France France Unité urbaine de Lyon, INSEE 2020 235,969 14%
34 Winnipeg Canada Canada 2021 Census 231,135 [21] [a] 31.4%
35 Santiago Chile 2017 Census 212,037 10.2%
36 Marseille France Unité urbaine de Marseille-Aix, INSEE 2020 193,740 12%
37 Rotterdam Netherlands Statistics Netherlands 2019 184,218 28.6%
38 The Hague Netherlands Statistics Netherlands 2019 176,183 32.8%
39 Manchester United Kingdom ONS 2021 173,208 31.4%
40 Oslo Norway Statistics Norway 2019 171,868 25.2%
41 Gothenburg Sweden Statistics Sweden 2019 159,342 27.5%
42 Hamilton Canada Canada 2021 census 158,190 [22] [a] 28.2%
43 Copenhagen Denmark Statistics Denmark 2022 134,409 26.3%
44 Malmö Sweden Statistics Sweden 2019 118,323 34.4%
45 Helsinki Finland Statistics Finland 2021 102,016 15.5%

Metropolitan and Urban regions with largest foreign born populations

  1. Data for the cities listed below is from numerous sources.
Rank [23] City Country Foreign-Born Population Sources of Immigrants
1 New York metropolitan area United States 5,892,000 [24] Dominican Republic, China, Jamaica, Ecuador, Guyana, South Korea, Mexico, Peru, Bangladesh, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti, Italy, Colombia, Russia, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Cuba
2 London and Home Counties United Kingdom 5,623,701 [5] India, Poland, Bangladesh, Romania, Pakistan, Turkey, Nigeria, Ireland, Sri Lanka, Jamaica
3 Los Angeles metropolitan area United States 5,541,000 [24] Mexico, Bangladesh, Philippines, El Salvador, China, Vietnam, South Korea, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Armenia, Iran
4 Paris metropolitan area France 4,177,965 [25] Algeria, Portugal, Morocco, Tunisia, Spain, Romania, Turkey, China, Italy, Mali, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Democratic Republic of Congo,
5 Greater Toronto Canada 2,870,000 [26] India, China, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Italy, United Kingdom, European Union, Pakistan, Iran, Jamaica, Bangladesh, Trinidad and Tobago, United States
6 Hong Kong (SAR) China 2,793,450 China, Indonesia, Philippines, Macau, Thailand, United Kingdom, France, India, Pakistan, Japan, United States, Canada
7 San Francisco Bay Area United States 2,634,270 [27] [28] Mexico, China, Philippines, Vietnam, India, El Salvador, Bangladesh, South Korea, Taiwan, Iran, Russia
8 Sydney Greater Capital City Statistical Area Australia 2,071,872 [29] China, United Kingdom, India, New Zealand, Vietnam, Philippines, South Korea, Lebanon, Sri Lanka
9 Miami metropolitan area United States 1,949,629 Cuba

Haiti, Colombia, Canada, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Brazil, Panama, Peru, Bangladesh

10 Melbourne Greater Capital City Statistical Area Australia 1,801,139 [30] United Kingdom, India, China, Vietnam, New Zealand, Italy, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Greece, Philippines, South Africa, Hong Kong
11 Chicago metropolitan area United States 1,625,649 Mexico, India, Poland, Philippines, China, Palestine, Ukraine, Italy, Guatemala, Lithuania
12 Brussels Urban Area Belgium 1,441,600 France, Romania, Morocco, Italy, Spain, Poland, Portugal, Bulgaria, Germany
13 Berlin Urban Area Germany 1,231,500 Turkey, Russia, Poland, Syria, Italy, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, France, Vietnam, United Kingdom
14 Singapore (city only) Singapore 1,305,011 Malaysia, China, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Myanmar, South Korea
15 Moscow (city only) Russia 1,128,035 Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan,

Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Belarus

16 Houston metropolitan area United States 1,113,875 Mexico, El Salvador, Vietnam, India, Nigeria, China, Honduras, Philippines, Myanmar, Guatemala, Colombia
17 Metropolitan Dubai United Arab Emirates 1,056,000 India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philippines, Iran, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom
18 Riyadh (city only) Saudi Arabia 1,054,000 Arab League, Pakistan, India, African Union, Bangladesh, Iran
19 Vancouver metropolitan area Canada 1,019,170 Hong Kong, China, India, South Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Japan, Iran, Pakistan, Poland, United Kingdom, Italy, United States
20 Washington metropolitan area United States 1,017,432 El Salvador, China, Ethiopia, Mexico, South Korea, Nigeria, Philippines, Vietnam, Ghana, Bolivia
21 Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex United States 1,016,221 Mexico,

India, Vietnam, El Salvador, China, South Korea, Bangladesh, Honduras, Philippines

22 Frankfurt Urban Area Germany 998,400 Turkey, Italy, Croatia, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, Russia, North Macedonia
23 Tokyo Urban Area Japan 978,172 China, South Korea, Philippines, Vietnam, United States, Brazil, Nepal, Taiwan, Peru, Thailand
Birmingham Urban Area United Kingdom 902,438 India, Pakistan, Poland, Bangladesh, Romania, China, Italy, Albania, Nigeria, Somalia
24 Barcelona Urban Area Spain 862,200 Italy, Pakistan, China, Ecuador, Bolivia, Morocco, France
25 Atlanta metropolitan area United States 861,208 Mexico, India, Jamaica, South Korea, Bangladesh, China, Vietnam, Nigeria, Guatemala, El Salvador, Colombia
26 Montreal Urban Area Canada 740,400 Algeria, Morocco, Bangladesh, Romania, France, Haiti, Lebanon
27 Brisbane Greater Capital City Statistical Area Australia 731,198 New Zealand, England, China, India, South Africa, Philippines, Vietnam, South Korea, Taiwan, Scotland, Malaysia
28 Auckland Urban Area New Zealand 662,298 United Kingdom, China, India, Fiji, Samoa, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka
29 Stockholm County Sweden 660,302 [31] Finland, Iraq, Poland, Syria, Iran, Turkey, Eritrea, Afghanistan,
30 Muscat Oman 571,000 Philippines, Pakistan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh
31 Milan Urban Area Italy 475,000 Egypt, Philippines, China, Romania, Sri Lanka
32 Greater Calgary Canada 400,000 India, Pakistan, Philippines, United States, Nigeria, China, Lebanon, Vietnam, United Kingdom, Bangladesh, South Korea, Iran, Hong Kong, Ethiopia, Germany, European Union
33 Mississauga Canada 381,730 Pakistan, India, Jamaica, Poland, Portugal, Italy, Egypt, China, Philippines, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Iraq, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom
34 Hamburg Metropolitan Region Germany 332,473 [25] Turkey, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Italy, Spain, Ghana
35 Greater Manchester United Kingdom 302,000 Pakistan, China, Ireland, Bangladesh, Poland, Nigeria, India, Somalia, Jamaica, Iraq
36 Greater Edmonton Canada 274,355 China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Somalia, Hong Kong, Philippines, Lebanon
37 Helsinki Finland 213,290 [32] Russia, Estonia, Somalia, Iraq, Sweden, China, Yugoslavia, Vietnam, India, Turkey
38 Hannover–Braunschweig–Göttingen–Wolfsburg Metropolitan Region Germany 132,684 Turkey, Serbia, Ukraine, Greece, Russia, Italy, Spain
39 Hamilton Canada 130,565 Italy, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India
40 Geneva Switzerland 77,602 France, Spain, Germany

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Statistic includes all persons classified as 'Immigrants' and 'Non-permanent residents' on census.

    Statistics Canada defines 'Immigrants' as "persons who are, or who have ever been, landed immigrants or permanent residents. Such persons have been granted the right to live in Canada permanently by immigration authorities. Immigrants who have obtained Canadian citizenship by naturalization are included in this category."

    Statistics Canada defines 'Non-permanent residents' as "persons from another country with a usual place of residence in Canada and who have a work or study permit or who have claimed refugee status (asylum claimants). Family members living with work or study permit holders are also included, unless these family members are already Canadian citizens, landed immigrants or permanent residents."


  1. ^ foreign-born,
  2. ^ Foreign-born, Merriam-Webster
  4. ^ United States Census Bureau. Current Population Survey - March 2012 Detailed Tables, Table 1.1. Accessed September 6, 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Population of the United Kingdom by Country of Birth and Nationality".
  6. ^ "Place of Birth by Year of Entry by Citizenship Status for the Foreign-Born Population - Universe: Foreign-born population 2016 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates New York City". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
  7. ^ "Foreign-born population of Greater Paris" (in French). INSEE. Retrieved 2021-11-27.
  8. ^ "2016 Census QuickStats". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
  9. ^ "2016 Census QuickStats". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
  10. ^ Government of Canada, Statistics Canada (2022-10-26). "Census Profile, 2021 Census of Population". Retrieved 2022-12-05.
  11. ^ Government of Canada, Statistics Canada (2022-10-26). "Census Profile, 2021 Census of Population". Retrieved 2022-12-05.
  12. ^ "2016 Census QuickStats". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
  13. ^ Government of Canada, Statistics Canada (2022-10-26). "Census Profile, 2021 Census of Population". Retrieved 2022-12-05.
  14. ^ Government of Canada, Statistics Canada (2022-10-26). "Census Profile, 2021 Census of Population". Retrieved 2022-12-05.
  15. ^ Government of Canada, Statistics Canada (2022-10-26). "Census Profile, 2021 Census of Population". Retrieved 2022-12-05.
  16. ^ Government of Canada, Statistics Canada (2022-10-26). "Census Profile, 2021 Census of Population". Retrieved 2022-12-05.
  17. ^ "Statistiche Istat".
  18. ^ "Census Profile, 2021 Census of Population". Statistics Canada. 2022-10-26. Retrieved 2022-12-05.
  19. ^ Government of Canada, Statistics Canada (2022-10-26). "Census Profile, 2021 Census of Population". Retrieved 2022-12-05.
  20. ^ Government of Canada, Statistics Canada (2022-10-26). "Census Profile, 2021 Census of Population". Retrieved 2022-12-05.
  21. ^ Government of Canada, Statistics Canada (2022-10-26). "Census Profile, 2021 Census of Population". Retrieved 2022-12-05.
  22. ^ Government of Canada, Statistics Canada (2022-10-26). "Census Profile, 2021 Census of Population". Retrieved 2022-12-05.
  23. ^ "Data Hub".
  24. ^ a b Jie Zong and Jeanne Batalova (April 14, 2016). "U.S. Immigrant Population by Metropolitan Area". Migration Policy Institute. Retrieved April 23, 2016.
  25. ^ a b INSEE. "Les immigrés par sexe, âge et pays de naissance – Département de Paris (75)" (in French). Archived from the original on 1 January 2016. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  26. ^ Government of Canada, Statistics Canada (February 8, 2017). "Census Profile, 2016 Census - Toronto [Census metropolitan area], Ontario and Ontario [Province]".
  27. ^ Bureau, U.S. Census. "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  28. ^ "U.S. Immigrant Population by State and County". 2014-02-04. Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  29. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics. "2016 Census QuickStats - Greater Sydney". Retrieved 2017-06-09.
  30. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics. "2016 Census QuickStats - Greater Melbourne". Retrieved 2017-06-09.
  31. ^ "Statistikmyndigheten SCB - Meddelande om underhåll, Statistics Sweden - Notice of maintenance". Archived from the original on 2020-10-31. Retrieved 2020-06-03.
  32. ^ "PX-Web - Valitse muuttuja ja arvot". Archived from the original on 2019-02-12. Retrieved 2018-12-21.

External links