First Generation vs Second Generation Immigrants

When to call an immigrant a first-generation immigrant? What makes an immigrant a second generation? Let’s understand the difference between the First Generation Immigrant and the Second Generation Immigrant.

An immigrant is a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country.

According to the United States Census Bureau‘s definitions;

First-Generation applies to foreign-born people who would attain U.S. nationality. The US Census Bureau Report highlights that first-generation and foreign-born are interchangeable.

However, the term Second Generation applies to the U.S. native. It means the person who is born in the US with at least one foreign-born parent.

In a similar way, the report calls those Native Americans the third and a higher generation that has both native-born parents.

First Generation Immigrant

Thoughtco highlights that the United States government accepts those people as the first generation who first acquire U.S citizenship in the family. That person may or may not be foreign-born.

However, the Census Bureau makes foreign-born a condition to be the first generation immigrant.

For example, a couple residing in the U.S. for work purposes has their baby born in the USA. The U.S. would grant citizenship to that child. Thus, the U.S. government accepts that child as a first-generation immigrant.

While, according to rules set by the U.S. Census Bureau, he won’t qualify for the first generation as he isn’t foreign-born.

But, then in that case, what would he and his offspring be? Which generation would they fall under according to the bureau?

Moreover, some sociologists argue that without being born in a country of relocation, one cannot be called the 1st generation immigrant.

Thus, this is a subject of great debate that has no fixed definition yet.

Second Generation Immigrant

Based on the above discussion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the second-generation immigrant is the offspring of a foreign-born who acquired U.S. nationality later on.

However, the U.S. government generally accepts that second-generation immigrants are the offspring of those first-generation parents who have first acquired U.S. nationality (foreign-born isn’t a condition for the first generation).

In short, two different definitions go side by side.

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