The 2020 Long-Term Budget Outlook

In 2020, immigration is projected to fall because of travel restrictions and reduced visa-processing capabilities related to the pandemic. Between 2021 and 2040, immigration is projected to increase as the effects of the pandemic ease and economic conditions are once again an important predictor of net flows of foreign-born people without legal status. The annual net flow of LPRs is projected to increase from 790,000 people per year, on average, in the first decade to 850,000 per year in the second decade. The annual net flow of LTRs is projected to average 60,000 people per year in the first decade and 80,000 people per year in the second decade. The net flow of foreign-born people without legal status is projected to be 10,000 people per year, on average, in the first decade of the projection period, rising to 130,000 people per year, on average, in the second decade of the period.

Changes in Projections of Immigration Since Last Year. CBO’s current projection of net immigration is less than its projection in 2019. The agency projects an average net immigration rate of 2.8 immigrants per 1,000 people between 2020 and 2050, compared with its projection of 3.1 immigrants per 1,000 people through the projection period in last year’s report.

In CBO’s projections, 2.5 million (or 21.0 percent) fewer people, on net, immigrate in the first decade of the projection period than the agency projected last year. That reduction occurs in part because of travel restrictions and reduced visa-processing capabilities related to the pandemic and includes 0.8 million fewer LPRs, 0.3 million fewer LTRs, and 1.4 million fewer foreign-born people without legal status than the agency projected last year.

In the second decade of the projection period, CBO projects lower net flows of foreign-born people without legal status and LPRs than it did last year. In response to data that show weak net flows of foreign-born people without legal status in recent years, CBO projects fewer immigrants from this category. Additionally, because net flows of LPRs in the second decade grow with population, reductions to net flows of LPRs in the first decade result in fewer immigrants from this category in the second decade. As a result of those changes, there are a total of 840,000 (or 7.4 percent) fewer immigrants, on net, between 2031 and 2040.

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