U.S. sees increase in immigration from Latvia

After declining for two years in a row, the number of immigrants from Latvia admitted to the United States saw an increase of 23.2 percent last year compared to 2003, according to data compiled by the U.S. government.

A total of 598 persons born in Latvia were admitted into the United States in 2004, according to the latest Yearbook of Immigration Statistics released in June by the Office of Immigration Statistics. In 2003, a total of 459 immigrants from Latvia were admitted. Since 1991, immigration from Latvia has waxed and waned, last reaching a peak in 2001 when 712 persons were admitted.

The data don’t reveal the ethnicity of the immigrants from Latvia.

By comparison, the number of immigrants admitted from Lithuania last year, 2,462, represented a nearly 8 percent increase over 2003. A total of 312 immigrants from Estonia were admitted in 2004, a 24.3 percent jump over the previous year.

Of the immigrants from Latvia, a total of 378 (63 percent) were immediate relatives of U.S. citizens—and the majority of those were spouses.

Just 15 orphans born in Latvia—seven boys and eight girls—were admitted into the United States last year, according to the yearbook.

Last year, 335 persons born in Latvia became naturalized U.S. citizens, an increase of nearly 50 percent over 2003. Also, last year 82 refugees and asylum seekers born in Latvia were granted permanent resident status.

During 2004, a total of 10,140 nonimmigrant Latvian citizens were admitted into the United States for business, pleasure, study or other reasons. The largest share, 42 percent, were tourists. Of the total, 2,373 Latvian citizens entered the United States through New York, 1,680 came in through Chicago, and 1,082 entered through Newark, N.J.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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