What are the Best U.S. Cities for Immigrants to Move to?

Taking a closer look at U.S. cities that offer immigrants a municipal ID, universal pre-school, affordable rents, and increased wages.

There are many important considerations to take into account when moving to a new city in the United States. This is true for U.S. citizens and immigrants alike. However, some of the needs between native born U.S. citizens and immigrants will likely differ when it comes to planning a move. For example, most U.S. citizens get their drivers license when they are teenagers so depending on public transport is not an issue they will have to worry about if they can afford a car.

Yet, because of the U.S. immigration system, immigrants who move to the U.S. when they are adults might have already learned to drive, but still need to apply for a new U.S. drivers license. Thus, immigrants and non-immigrants moving to a city where public transport is easily accessible can become a deciding factor, among others on where an immigrant may choose to live.

Other issues involve deciding to move to a city that has been designated as a “Sanctuary City”, where local officials have decided to enact policies including prohibiting police or city employees from questioning people about their immigration status.[1] Additionally, cities that provide universal pre-school education for children and have an affordable cost of living are also major factors in deciding where immigrants ultimately choose to live in the U.S.

Let’s take a closer look at 3 popular options in 2022:

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee actually tops the list of U.S. cities best suited for immigrants because of its cost of living (which is still below the national average in terms of rental prices) and for the fact that the city issues a municipal ID program. This is essentially a photo ID that allows immigrants to access public services regardless of their immigration status.

Los Angeles, California

Living in Los Angeles definitely has its pros and cons. For residents who have lived in this city, some of the cons involve a city that does not have a very good public transportation system so far. In this regard, LA is notoriously known as being a “car city”, although ride sharing platforms are also ubiquitous here. Yet, one of the benefits of living in Los Angeles is that the city does have a high minimum wage of $15/hour. This is also set to increase by July 1st, 2022 to $15.96.[2]

The city also has a universal pre-school system and in terms of social capital has a large immigrant population from Latin America.

Chicago, IL

Greater Chicago has one of the biggest immigrant communities in the United States, with about 1 in every 5 residents. One of the biggest attractions for immigrants looking to move to Chicago is that it still has the big city feeling of Manhattan, but with more affordable rental prices. In fact, NYC also has a huge immigrant population, but due to some of the highest rental prices in the country it is hardly affordable to immigrants moving to the U.S.

According to StreetEasy, an online rental platform, the comparison for a 1 bedroom apartments clearly shows that Chicago is more affordable than NYC. The median price for a 1-bedroom in Chicago is currently $1700 per month, while the median price for a 1-bedroom in NYC $2850 per month.[3]

Chicago also has the same universal pre-school program that makes it attractive for immigrants with children and a municipal ID program so that immigrants can access resources such as legal assistance and mental healthcare. The minimum wage in Chicago is $14/hour for small businesses and $15/hour for employers that 21 or more employees.

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H-1B Visa

H-1B Visa

H-1B visa is used by businesses and organizations in the United States to employ foreign nationals with the preferred qualifications, knowledge, and expertise in a role.

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I-485 Adjustment of Status

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National Interest Waiver (NIW)

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