Immigration Facts
Summary Demographic State Data (and Source)
Population (2012 CB est.) 576,412
Population (2000 CB est.) 493,782
Foreign-Born Population (2012 CB est.) 19,520
Foreign-Born Population (2000 CB est.) 11,205
Share Foreign-Born (2012) 3.4 %
Share Foreign-Born (2000) 2.1%
Naturalized U.S. Citizens (2012 CB est.): 7,318
Share Naturalized (2012) 37.5 %
Legal Immigrant Admission (DHS 2001 – 2012) 3,559
Refugee Admission (HHS 2000 – 2012) 8
Illegal Alien Population (2010 FAIR est.) 5,000
Costs of Illegal Aliens (2009 FAIR) $50,993,549
Projected 2050 Population (2006 FAIR) 597,000

State Population

According to the Census Bureau, the population of Wyoming in 2012 was 576,412 residents.

Between 2000 (population 493,782) and 2012, the state's average annual population change was 6,745 residents. That was an annual average change of 1.3 percent. The comparable national annual rate of change was 0.9 percent.

Between 1990 (population 453,588) and 2000, the state's annual average population change was 4,019 residents. The annual average rate of change was 0.9 percent compared to the national rate of change of 1.2 percent.

Foreign-Born Population

According to the Census Bureau the foreign-born population of Wyoming was about 19,520 persons in 2012. This estimate meant a foreign-born population share of 3.4 percent. The chart above shows the long-term change in the state's foreign-born population based on Census Bureau data.

Foreign-Born Change

Between 2000 and 2012 the Census Bureau estimate indicates an average annual rate of change in the foreign-born population of about 1,183 people, compared to the state's annual average population change of about 6,745  people. That is a 17.5  percent share of the state's population change (not including the children born in the United States to illegal aliens). The foreign-born population grew by 74.2 percent between 2000 and 2012.

Immigration also contributes to population growth through the U.S.-born children of immigrants. Nationally the share of births to the foreign-born is about double their share of the population. A 6.8 percent share of the state's current births is large enough to account for about 505 births a year. Combining the average increase in the foreign-born population and estimated immigrant births suggests that immigration may account for about 1,185 persons added to the state's population annually, i.e., nearly 17.5 percent of the state's overall population increase.

As of 2012 about 48.9 percent of Wyoming's foreign-born population had arrived in the state since 2000. This compares with the national average 40.9 percent. In 2000, 37.8 percent of the state's foreign-born population that had arrived since the previous Census.

Foreign-Born Characteristics

An indicator of the change in Wyoming's immigrant population may be seen in data on the share of the population over five years of age that speaks a language other than English at home. Between 2000 and 2012, the share of non-English speakers changed from 6.4 percent to 7.8 percent. In 2000, 30.2 percent of those persons in also said they spoke English less than very well. In the 2012 estimate, the share was 27.4 percent that spoke English less than very well. In 2012 Spanish speakers were 71.3 percent of those who spoke other than English at home, and 76.6 percent of those who spoke English less than very well.

The chart above shows the regional composition of the state's foreign-born population and how it has changed from between 2000 and 2012.


Census Bureau data in 2012 indicate that 7,318 residents of Wyoming, or 37.5 percent of the foreign-born population in Wyoming, were naturalized U.S. citizens, compared to 5,121 residents, or 45.7 percent, in 2000.

Nationally, 40.3 percent of the foreign-born population was naturalized in 2000, and 45.8 percent in 2012.

Net International Migration (NIM)

Data from the Current Population Survey (CPS), the Census Bureau estimated that between 2000 and 2012, the change in Wyoming's population resulting from net international migration has been about 680 people. It was 6.1 percent of total change (not including the children born to the immigrants after their arrival in the United States). 1   The remainder was due to net domestic migration and natural change (births minus deaths).


  1. A negative percentage results when there was an overall population decrease. A percentage greater than 100 percent results when domestic migration is negative, i.e, a net loss from interstate migration.

Immigrant Admissions

Recent "green card" recipients who intend to reside in Wyoming were 152 percent above admissions just after adoption of the current immigration system in 1965. During the 1965 to 1969 period, annual admissions averaged about 174 persons. During the most recent five years, annual admissions averaged about 437 persons. Immigrant admissions data are from the Yearbook of Immigration Statistics.

The chart above shows recent immigrant admissions and the cumulative amount of immigrant admissions since FY'65. The cumulative total of immigrant admissions to Wyoming between fiscal years 1965 and 2012 has been 13,906 persons.

The data for fiscal years 1989-91 were artificially raised by the inclusion of former illegal aliens who were amnestied in 1986. According to INS data (1991) the number of amnesty applicants from Wyoming was 1,034 (631 pre-1982 residents and 403 agricultural workers). These data were published by the Immigration and Naturalization Service and reported in "Report on the Legalized Alien Population," March 1992.

Admissions by Nationality: FY'96 - FY'05

The table below furnishes INS data by nationality on the immigrants who were admitted for residence in Wyoming between 1996 and 2005.

The INS data are for nationals of the countries with the largest number of immigrants admitted or adjusted to legal residence each year since 1996. The absence of data means that the total number of admissions to the United States by nationals of that country was not enough to merit detailed reporting in that year.

The Department of Homeland Security website has detailed data on immigrant admissions since FY'03 by year and by source country and intended state of residence. (See http://www.dhs.gov/files/statistics/publications/yearbook.shtm) then select the desired year, click Legal Permanent Residents, data and then select "supplemental table 1."

Chart of Immigrant Admission by Fiscal Year


Wyoming has received 8 refugees over the most recent ten fiscal years including 0 refugees in fiscal year 2012. The chart above shows the annual admissions over the last ten years and the cumulative total of those admissions using data complied by the Office of Refugee Resettlement in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The U.S. government program that distributes new refugees among the states is the only immigration program that provides state governments the opportunity to participate in deciding how many newcomers will come to that state each year.

Illegal Aliens

Wyoming Fiscal Costs
Due to Illegal Aliens
           ($M) (Pct.)
K-12 educ. $26.30 51.6%
LEP educ. $5.30 10.4%
Medicaid+ $3.40 6.7%
SCHIP $0.90 1.8%
Justice $5.50 10.8%
Welfare+ $3.40 6.7%
General $6.10 12.0%
Total $51.00  
Tax receipts $1.10  
Net Cost $49.90  
Source: "The State Cost Studies"

FAIR Estimate - FAIR estimates the illegal alien population of Wyoming as of 2010 was about <5,000 persons. this is part of an overall estimate of the u.s. illegal alien population of about 11,900,000>

DHS Estimate - The current estimate by DHS of the illegal alien population in Wyoming was n/a in 2012. The DHS estimate is available for only the 10 states with the largest illegal alien populations. The DHS estimate of the national illegal alien population in 2012 was 11,430,000.

Other Estimates - The Pew Hispanic Center estimates the illegal alien population of the state at <10,000 as of>

Fiscal Cost of Illegal Aliens

FAIR's most recent estimate of the cost outlays due to illegal immigration and tax receipts from illegal aliens in Wyoming are as shown on the right:

Limited English Proficiency Students

Data are not available nationally on immigrant students (either legally or illegally resident in the United States) who are enrolled in primary and secondary schools (K-12). However, a large majority of these students enrolled in Limited English Proficiency/English Language Learning (LEP/ELL) instruction programs may be assumed to be children of either legal or illegal immigrants with a predominance of children of illegal aliens.

In Wyoming, LEP public school enrollment in 2010 ( 2,243) was 99.6 percent of LEP enrollment a decade earlier. By contrast, overall K-12 enrollment in the state was 95.7 percent of enrollment a decade earlier.

Population Projection

FAIR projected Wyoming's population in 2050 likely would be between 592,000 million and 597,000 million with current levels of immigration. Alternatively, the population could be lower (567,000) if immigration were reduced to a level where it balanced the number of U.S. residents leaving to reside outside of the United states, i.e., zero-net immigration. See "Projecting the U.S. Population to 2050: Four Immigration Scenarios," FAIR 2006.

Foreign Students

Data compiled by the Institute of International Education (IIE) record the number of foreign students attending post-secondary school in Wyoming as 1,097 in 2013.

The chart above illustrates the change in the number of foreign students attending school in Wyoming since 1997.

For information on foreign student issues see: Foreign Students in the United States.

Immigration Impact


Traffic: Highway traffic in Wyoming increased by 56 percent between 1990 and 2008.1 As population growth put more traffic on the roads, the average commute for Wyoming residents increased from 15 minutes in 1990 to 17.3 minutes in 2005.2 About 11 percent of Wyoming commuters had a commute of 45 minutes or longer in 2008.3

Crowded housing: An estimated 3,604 of Wyoming's housing units were classified as crowded in 2008, defined as units with more than one occupant per room. This amounted to 1.7 percent of the state's housing units. In addition, 861 units were severely crowded, with at least 1.5 occupants per room.4 Nationwide, children in immigrant families were three times as likely to live in crowded conditions as children in native families (27 percent to 9 percent). In the state, 19 percent of children in immigrant families live in crowded housing, compared to just 7 percent of children with native-born parents.5

Disappearing open space: The amount of developed land in Wyoming increased by 145,300 acres from 1982 to 2007, growing at a pace of 5,960 acres per year over the last ten years of that period.6

Sprawl: Rural sprawl is increasingly becoming a major concern for Wyoming, which has lost 1.6 million acres of land to rural sprawl between 1960 and 1990 and is predicted to lose nearly 3.3 million by 2050.7 Sprawl is already a concern for Cheyenne. "We're slowly getting choked off — if the city doesn't break through and does become landlocked, the only way to grow will be through urban sprawl," says one city engineer.8 With the county's population slated to increase as a result of several developments that are bound to bring new residents, sprawl will continue to be a major problem.9

Air pollution: Wyoming has the highest energy consumption per capita in the U.S. Its rate of over 1 billion Btu per year more than doubles that of the fifth-highest state, Texas, and more than triples the national average.10 The National Parks Conservation Association lists Yellowstone National Park on its list of "America's Ten Most Endangered National Parks" because air pollution.11 The poor air quality at Yellowstone has prompted park officials to issue respirators (to filter out pollutants) to employees, many of whom are suffering from sore throats, runny noses, and burning eyes as a result of the pollution.12

Poverty: Wyoming's immigrants are more likely to be poor than their native-born counterparts. In 2008, 10.1 percent of foreign-born households were in poverty, compared to 9.4 percent of natives. An additional 12.5 percent of the foreign-born and 7.6 percent of native households were not in poverty but had incomes below 1.5 times the threshold.13

Education: Public school enrollment in Wyoming is projected to grow by about 8,200 students between 2007 and 2018, an increase of 9.6 percent.14 It will be a major challenge for Wyoming schools to accommodate such increases in enrollment while trying to overcome their poor ratings in teacher quality, standards and accountability, school climate, and equity of resources (as cited by Education Week).15

Solid Waste: Wyoming generates 1.39 tons of solid waste per capita each year.16 If this rate does not change, population growth projected between 2008 and 2050 will add over 100,000 tons to the state's annual solid waste output.


  1. The Road Information Project (TRIP), "Key Facts about Wyoming's Surface Transportation System and Federal Funding," May 2010.
  2. Table DP-1-4, Profile of General Demographic Characteristics: 1990 and 2000, Census 2000, U.S. Census Bureau. Selected economic Characteristics: 2005 Data Set - 2005 American Community Survey, American Fact Finder, U.S. Census Bureau.
  3. American Community Survey, 2008 Estimates, Custom Data Table.
  4. American Community Survey, Three-Year Estimates 2006-2008. Data retrieved using ACS Custom Table tool.
  5. Kids Count Data Center, Kids Count Data Center, 2008 American Community Survey Data.
  6. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, "Summary Report: 2007 National Resources Inventory."
  7. Ilene Olson, "Sprawl to Spread," Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, June 27, 2001.
  8. Tim Lockwood, "City Searches for Elbow Room," Wyoming Tribune- Eagle, March 24, 2002.
  9. "Urban Sprawl City, County Need To Be Ready," Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, July 6, 2001.
  10. Energy Information Administration, "State Ranking 7.  Total Energy Consumption Per Capita, 2008," released July 22, 2010.
  11. "Yellowstone Among 10 Most 'Endangered' Parks," Associated Press, April 24, 2003.
  12. "Pollution from Snowmobile Prompts Park Service to Issue Respirators," Associated Press, April 24, 2003.
  13. State Fact Sheet, Migration Information Source, Migration Policy Center
  14. "Table 4. Actual and projected numbers for enrollment in grades PK12 in public elementary and secondary schools, by region and state: Fall 2000 through fall 2018," National Center for Education Statistics, Department of Education.
  15. "State Gets Poor Education Grades," Associated Press, January 8, 2003.
  16. Report Card for America's Infrastructure 2005," American Society of Civil Engineers