July 1, 2008 - As Americans celebrate the founding of our nation on Independence Day, 75 foreign-born Virginia residents, gathering with family, friends, dignitaries and visitors, will take a hard-earned oath of citizenship on the lawn at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. Those new citizens join other foreign-born Virginians who have taken their oaths in ceremonies throughout the year from Harrisonburg to Hampton.
Recognizing the importance of the foreign-born to Virginia, the University of Virginia's Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service released a study of all of Virginia's foreign-born residents, noting that new arrivals account for one-quarter of the commonwealth's population growth since 2000. In the second edition of "Stat Chat," a digest of facts about demographic topics of current interest, Cooper Center demographers report that one in 10 Virginians is foreign-born, and the percentage of foreign-born in Virginia has increased dramatically since 1970. In 2006, the top five countries of birth for Virginia's foreign-born were El Salvador, Mexico, Korea, Philippines and India.
Forty-three percent of the foreign-born in Virginia have become United States citizens through the naturalization process, which requires applicants to be 18 years of age; maintain lawful residence in the United States for five consecutive years; demonstrate good moral character, English language ability and knowledge of U.S. history and government; and take an oath of allegiance to the United States. Naturalized citizens exceed the foreign-born non-citizens and their native-born counterparts in household income and educational attainment.
Using 2006 data from the United States Census Bureau's American Community Survey, the center's demographers also found that:
"Understanding the diversity and strengths of Virginia's foreign-born population is essential to tapping their abilities to contribute to Virginia's future," said Qian Cai, director of the Cooper Center's Demographics and Workforce section. "The profiles, potential and needs of foreign-born Virginians are changing. Thorough understanding of these trends, combined with careful planning and sound public policy, will help Virginia meet their needs and benefit from their contributions."
Other in-depth studies produced by the center's workforce and demographics section can be found in its "Numbers Count" series, including:
A copy of "Stat Chat," and any of the section's publications, can be downloaded from www.coopercenter.org/demographics.
For information, contact Qian Cai (pronounced Chien Tsai) at 434-982-5581 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.