TABLE 2.6 Nonimmigrants Admitted, by Class of Admission, Fiscal Year 1994

Class of Admission


All classes


Tourists (temporary visitors for business or pleasure)




Temporary workers and trainees (and their families)


Transit aliens


Treaty traders and investors (and their families)


Exchange visitors and families


Intracompany transferees and families


Foreign government officials


Representatives of international organizations





Source: U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (1996:Table 39).

As explained above, a nonimmigrant is an alien admitted into the country for a specific purpose and period of time. Most nonimmigrant categories are subject to no restrictions on the total number of admissions, but length of stay or of employment is often limited. Consequently, the number of nonimmigrants admitted in recent years far exceeds the number of legal immigrants. As Table 2.6 documents, more than 22 million nonimmigrants arrived during 1994, more than 25 times the number of legal immigrants admitted in that year. These numbers grossly understate the relative importance of legal immigrants, since many nonimmigrants stay for only a short time. On one hand, these statistics also may count some individuals more than once, since many nonimmigrants make more than one trip in a fiscal year. On the other hand, they leave out many nonimmigrant arrivals; for example, tourists from Canada or Mexico are not counted when they cross the border.

Nonimmigrants come for a variety of purposes. More than 9 in every 10 (approximately 20 million) were temporary visitors or tourists, most of whom visit for only a few days or a few weeks. The next two most important categories are students and those who were admitted for some type of temporary employment or training.

Nonimmigrants have nontrivial economic effects on this country. Foreign tourists pour money into many large U.S. cities—especially New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, and Washington, D.C.—as well as into major tourist sites, including national parks and theme parks. More than 500,000 foreign students, most of whom have financial support from abroad, are in the United States as nonimmigrants; they form an important part of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs and constituted about 4 percent of U.S. college enrollments in 1990 (Institute for International Education, 1996).20 Nonimmigrants

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