Demographic Information

Near­ly 5.4 mil­lion South Asians live in the Unit­ed States. The South Asian com­mu­ni­ty in the Unit­ed States com­pris­es of indi­vid­u­als with ances­try from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pak­istan, Sri Lan­ka, and the Mal­dives. The com­mu­ni­ty also includes mem­bers of the South Asian dias­po­ra – past gen­er­a­tions of South Asians who orig­i­nal­ly set­tled in many areas around the world, includ­ing the Caribbean (Guyana, Jamaica, Suri­name, and Trinidad & Toba­go), Africa (Nige­ria, South Africa, Ugan­da), Cana­da, Europe, the Mid­dle East, and oth­er parts of Asia and the Pacif­ic Islands (Fiji, Indone­sia, Malaysia, and Sin­ga­pore).

The com­mu­ni­ty is far from homo­ge­neous; South Asians are not only diverse in terms of nation­al ori­gin, but also by virtue of pos­sess­ing a vari­ety of eth­nic, reli­gious, and lin­guis­tic char­ac­ter­is­tics. The com­mu­ni­ty is com­prised of indi­vid­u­als who prac­tice dis­tinct reli­gions and speak dif­fer­ent lan­guages, yet share sim­i­lar immi­gra­tion his­to­ries. For exam­ple, South Asians prac­tice Bud­dhism, Chris­tian­i­ty, Hin­duism, Jain­ism, Judaism, Islam, Sikhism, and Zoroas­tri­an­ism. The most com­mon lan­guages oth­er than Eng­lish spo­ken by South Asians in the Unit­ed States include Ben­gali, Gujarati, Hin­di, Pun­jabi, and Urdu.

South Asians are also diverse in terms immi­gra­tion and socioe­co­nom­ic sta­tus. The major­i­ty of South Asians who live in the Unit­ed States are for­eign-born, with over 75% of the pop­u­la­tion born out­side of the Unit­ed States. South Asians pos­sess a range of immi­gra­tion sta­tus­es includ­ing undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants; stu­dent and work­er visa hold­ers and their depen­dents; legal per­ma­nent res­i­dents; and nat­u­ral­ized cit­i­zens. With respect to employ­ment, many South Asians have careers in the tech­nol­o­gy and med­ical fields; many with­in the com­mu­ni­ty are also employed in low­er-wage jobs as cashiers, taxi work­ers, and restau­rant work­ers.

Read the Demo­graph­ic Snap­shot of South Asians in the Unit­ed States (2019) for details on pop­u­la­tion growth, immi­gra­tion sta­tus, deten­tion and pover­ty lev­els, hate vio­lence, and elec­toral growth.