Other Free Encyclopedias » Medicine Encyclopedia » Aging Healthy - Part 2 » Immigrants - Types Of Older Immigrants, Origins Of Older Immigrants, Economic Circumstances, Family Ties

Immigrants - Types Of Older Immigrants

age percent age united admitted

Persons age sixty-five and older made up only 3 percent of immigrants who entered the United States between 1990 and 2000, as compared to 14 percent of immigrants who arrived before this period and 12 percent of the native-born population. Older people are less likely to move, if only because they have stronger ties to their place of residence. Despite this propensity to age in place, 41,780 immigrants age sixty-five and older were admitted to the United States as permanent residents in 1996. The majority of older immigrants in 1996 (57 percent) were women. While most of the older men were married (84 percent), the women were more evenly divided between the married (45 percent) and the widowed (40 percent).

The percentage of immigrants age sixty-five and older has climbed steadily—from 2 percent in the early 1960s to 4 to 5 percent in the late 1990s. Because overall immigration increased markedly, this period also saw an eight-fold increase in the number of elderly immigrants. Most older immigrants settled in states that already had large immigrant populations (e.g., California, New York, Texas, Florida, Hawaii).

In addition to immigrants admitted as permanent residents, many older people who entered the country earlier adjust their visas to permanent resident status. In 1996, adjustments included 6,230 refugees and asylees, age sixty-five and older who had sought protection from persecution in their countries of nationality. Furthermore, many older adults are among the tourists and visitors admitted to the United States on a temporary visa each year. Of the 1.4 million elderly nonimmigrant visitors in 1996, nearly half came from the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, or Mexico.

Older people who immigrate permanently do so largely for family reasons, particularly to be close to children living in the United States. There are no numerical limits placed on immigrants who are immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, provided they are twenty-one years of age or older. In 1996, 87 percent of newly admitted immigrants, age sixty-five and older entered the country as parents of U.S. citizens. Another 11 percent of older immigrants entered under some other family reunification provision of U.S. immigration law (e.g., as spouses of U.S. citizens or permanent residents). Apparently, illegal immigration is unusual for those admitted as parents. Fewer than 2 percent of parents who immigrated to the United States in 1996 had been illegal immigrants at some point, as indicated by self-reports or visa documents, but almost 20 percent of all permanent immigrants had such irregularities.

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