Institute for Immigration Research

Immigrant Nurses in the U.S. 2000-2015

Proportion of immigrant registered nurses by state

From the year 2000 to 2015, in the U.S. there has been an increase in the proportion of immigrants in each of the three main categories of nurses: 1) registered nurses, 2) licensed practical and vocational nurses, and 3) nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides across the U.S. Most notably, over time there has been the greatest increase among immigrant nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides. While these positions require lower skill levels than the other positions (in 2015 only 8 percent of native-born and 15 percent of immigrant nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides ages 25 years of age and older earned a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 60 percent of native-born registered nurses and 73 percent of immigrant registered nurses), these positions are needed with a growing, aging population.  The number of Americans ages 65 years of age and older is projected to more than double from 46 million in 2016 to over 98 million by 2060. 

Today the top ten states with the largest percentage of individuals 55 years of age and older include: California (22 percent), Florida (15 percent), Texas (14 percent), New York (12 percent), Pennsylvania (9 percent), Illinois (8 percent), Ohio (8 percent), Michigan (7 percent), North Carolina (6 percent), and New Jersey (6 percent). Immigrant nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides provide support to this aging population in these states. For example, in New York, 59 percent of immigrant nurses serve as nursing psychiatric and home health aides.

Across all three nursing categories, the largest groups of immigrant registered nurses, licensed practical and vocational nurses, and nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides in the U.S. are from the Philippines. In 2015, immigrants from the Philippines, India, and Nigeria were the largest groups employed in the most skilled positions of registered nurses (29 percent, 7 percent, and 5 percent, respectively) while immigrants from Mexico (11 percent), Haiti (10 percent), and Jamaica (10 percent) were the largest groups employed as nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides.

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