Beyond the Immigration Ban: A Picture of Legal U.S. Residents from Banned Nations


As an organization, we are driven by a desire to find truth in data.

Amid growing tensions and confusion surrounding our nation’s changing political climate, we’ve turned to our data to gain clarity and perspective on a steady stream of executive actions in Washington.

On Friday, January 27, 2017, President Trump issued a controversial order suspending the immigration of nationals from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and Sudan into the U.S. for up to 90 days. Upon execution of the order, agents were directed to enforce a complete immigration ban, regardless of dual citizenship, green card, or visa status. Following a wave of confusion and protest, officials have since made a reversal, issuing a statement Sunday that the ban will no longer bar green card holders from entering the country. Despite this new stance, the Department of Homeland Security maintains that it will subject green card holders (legal, permanent U.S. residents) to additional scrutiny, a measure that has resulted in hours of secondary screening for some.

As many organizations work to uncover the potential impact of the immigration ban on their employees, we’ve taken a look at Department of Labor’s Permanent Certification Data, which collects employment-based green card applications, to shed some light on the population of immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen who have obtained green cards through employment over the past ten years.


Following a drop in 2011, we’ve seen continued growth in approved applications from those seven countries. Since 2007 there have been a total of 3,841 green cards certified, with 949 (24.7%) of those in the last year. Among the 7 countries under immigration suspension, the majority of applicants come from Iran (72.5%) and Syria (21%), with Iraq (2.2%), Libya (1.7%), Sudan (1.5%), Yemen (0.96%), and Somalia (0.1%) making up the remainder.


The states with the highest concentration of approved applicants are California (26%), Texas (13%), New York (6%), South Carolina (4%), Michigan (4%) and Washington (4%), Illinois (3%), Massachusetts (3%), North Carolina (3%), Ohio (3%) and Pennsylvania (3%). New York City, Houston, Gastonia (NC), Los Angeles, and Redmond (WA) are among the most popular cities.

Beyond the surface statistics, we wanted a better sense of these individuals and the (professional) roles they play in society.

Visa status

The majority of employment-based green card holders (64%) applied from an existing employer-granted H-1B visa status. The second most common visa status (16%) was an F-1 student visa. 11% applied for a green card from outside the U.S. and those with a temporary protected status (TPS) designation representing nationals from countries facing armed conflict or other environmental disasters (e.g. Syria, Sudan, and Somalia) made up 2% of approved applicants. Note: visa status was only reported for 82% of employment-based green card holders.


66% of approved applicants have a college degree, including 11% with at least a Bachelor’s degree, 30% with a Master’s, 11% with a medical degree and 10% with a doctorate.

Across the board, the most common majors include medicine, civil engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, architecture, industrial engineering, dentistry, petroleum engineering, and accounting.


Professionally, the highest concentration of job roles are in:

  • Colleges/universities/professional schools (13%)
  • Offices of physicians (9%)
  • Engineering services (9%)
  • General medical and surgical hospitals (7%)
  • Limited-service restaurants (7%)
  • Janitorial services (5%)

Among major companies, Microsoft, Google, Cleveland Clinic, Cisco, Oracle, Intel, Facebook, and Apple top the list of organizations employing green card holders. For perspective, Microsoft employs almost 2.5% of all employment-based green card holders from the last 10 years while Google employs just under 1%.

Of note, top leadership from Microsoft, Google, Cleveland Clinic, Intel, Facebook, and Apple have made public statements regarding the ban, in support of their immigrant employees and some, in stark opposition to the ban.

Interested in digging into more data on this subject? You can find the full scope here (along with thousands of other government datasets) on Enigma Public.