2018 New Green Card Data Shows Slight Quarter-to-Quarter Decline

By Preston Huennekens on August 8, 2018

The Department of Homeland Security recently released the "Legal Immigration and Adjustment of Status Report" for the first quarter of FY 2018. This dataset contains information on the number of individuals attaining lawful permanent resident status per quarter.

  Adjustments New
Total Percent
Q1 2017 137,947 150,916 288,863 n/a
Q2 2017 132,987 139,768 272,755 -5.60%
Q3 2017 141,883 144,175 286,058 4.90%
Q4 2017 137,872 142,646 280,518 -1.90%
Q1 2018 140,449 123,539 263,988 -5.90%

Individuals Obtaining LPRs per Quarter Q1 2017 to Q1 2018

The table and figure above show that the general trend of LPR issuance has not drastically changed between October 1, 2016, and December 31, 2017. This period roughly covers the last three months of the Obama administration and the first calendar year of the Trump administration.

The total number of new green cards in Q1 FY 2018 is 8.6 percent less than the same total a year before, in Q1 FY 2017. The first quarter data shows that numbers were down from the preceding quarter by 5.9 percent.

The first quarter of FY 2018 reverses the FY2017 trend of new arrivals outnumbering status adjustments. In fact, new arrivals dipped noticeably between Q4 2017 and Q1 2018, whereas status adjustments grew slightly.

In previous years, the numerical difference between status adjusters and new arrivals was small. In FY 2014 and 2015, status adjusters were responsible for over half of green card issuance, whereas in 2016 and 2017 new arrivals made up the majority.

of Status
Total Adjusters –
Share of Total
2017 550,689 577,505 1,128,194 48.80%
2016 565,427 618,078 1,183,505 47.80%
2015 542,315 508,716 1,051,031 51.60%
2014 535,126 481,392 1,016,518 52.60%

One quarter's worth of data is not enough to draw conclusions about the remaining nine months in any fiscal year. However, reports indicate that the Trump administration may publish a proposal that would bar individuals on green cards (and future applicants) from naturalization if they or their dependents used certain social safety net programs. If implemented, this policy change would almost certainly reduce the total number of green cards in any long-term projection.