We Get Some Rich Immigrants, but Not from Rich Countries

By David North on April 14, 2019

Some recent news about the differential wealth of migrants from different countries lead me to examine two sets of international data: What are the 20 richest nations (and territories) in the world and what are the 20 nations contributing the most to our foreign-born population?

What I found were two quite different lists, with only one name on both lists: Germany. Data for the richest countries is from the International Monetary Fund and data for those sending us the most immigrants is from the U.S. Census:


Comparing the Richest 20 Nations and Territories
to the 20 Sending Us the Most Migrants

The Rich Nations
      The Sending Nations
Rank Country Per Capita
GDP in Int$
      Rank Country Population
in U.S., 2016
1  Qatar 124,927   |   1  Mexico 11,573,680
2  Macau 114,430   |   2  India 2,434,524
3  Luxembourg 109,192   |   3  China 2,122,951
4  Singapore 90,531   |   4  Philippines 1,941,665
5  Brunei 76,743   |   5  El Salvador 1,387,022
6  Ireland 72,632   |   6  Vietnam 1,352,760
7  Norway 70,590   |   7  Cuba 1,271,618
8  Kuwait 69,669   |   8  Dominican Republic 1,085,321
9  United Arab Emirates 68,245   |   9  South Korea 1,041,727
10   Switzerland 61,360   |   10  Guatemala 935,707
11  Hong Kong 61,016   |   11  Canada 783,206
12  San Marino 60,359   |   12  Jamaica 736,303
13  United States 59,495   |   13  Colombia 704,587
14  Saudi Arabia 55,263   |   14  United Kingdom 696,896
15  Netherlands 53,582   |   15  Haiti 668,223
16  Iceland 52,150   |   16  Honduras 651,059
17  Bahrain 51,846   |   17  Germany 563,985
18  Sweden 51,264   |   18  Ecuador 439,123
19  Germany 50,206   |   19  Peru 427,445
20  Australia 49,882   |   20  Poland 424,928


Clearly the Swiss are not sending us their bankers nor the Saudis their princes, but two other nations, places with low average incomes and huge populations, do dominate what might be regarded as the wealth rankings among our immigrant population.

As proxies for migrant wealth, I nominate three categories, two fairly obvious ones, and a third one that emerged quite recently.

The first is the EB-5 immigrant investor program, where pure wealth is required. The second is the H-1B program, where wealth as reflected in college attendance is the measure. The third, and newest, is the likelihood of an alien in trouble being able — with the assistance of an attorney in most cases — to be bonded out of detention and the median size of those bonds.

We are comparing the numbers of aliens in the first two categories to the success percentages in the third. (The sheer volume of applications for bonding do not reflect wealth, only a wealth of people in trouble; the success percentages are a better reflection of money and power.)


Measure 1: EB-5
Visas Issued in 2018

China 4,642
Vietnam 693
India 585
South Korea 531

Source: "FY2018 EB-5 Visas by
, Lucid Professional
Writing, EB-5 Blog, January 7,


Measure 2: H-1B
Petitions Filed in

India 247,927
China 36,362
Philippines 3,161
South Korea 3,203

Source: USCIS.


Measure 3: Bonds Granted
Among Those with More
than 1 Pct. of the 74,594
Hearings in 2018

Country Pct. Successfully
Getting Bond
India 87% $17,000
China 60% $15,000
Ecuador 52% $7,500
Brazil 52% $7,500

Source: " Importance of Nationality in
Immigration Court Bond Decisions"
TRAC program Syracuse University.


This means that a very high percentage of Indian nationals seeking bonds (rather than detention) got their way, but at a substantial price. People from other nations, in the same bind, were less likely to succeed and likely to need smaller bonds. It is a strange, even perverse, measurement of wealth, but it is one.

So China has one first and two seconds; India has two firsts and one third; and the only other country with two or more places was South Korea, with two fourths.

My sense is that if you are prosperous in a peaceful, prosperous place, you're likely to stay there — hence the extreme shortages of Donald Trump's favorite nationality, the Norwegians; in 2016, only one out of every 3,176 new immigrants to the United States was from Norway. The total was 362 that year.

But if you are prosperous in a nervous-making nation, you will try to find a better place to live, and hence the high scores for India and, particularly, China in these proxy measures of well-to-do migrants.