South Asians who are ‘foreign-born’, on H1B visas, refugees or even asylum seekers can still participate in Census2020! Find out how.
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1. Are South Asians included on the Census?
Yes. You count in the Census if you can trace your origins to Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The term ‘South Asian’ also includes members of the South Asian diaspora – past generations of South Asians who originally settled in other parts of the world, including the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, Canada and the Middle East, and other parts of Asia and the Pacific Islands.
The South Asian advocacy group SAALT reports that almost 5.4 million South Asians currently live in the United States, an increase from the 3.5 million counted in the 2010 Census. Indians comprise almost 80% of the total South Asian population which grew by 40% between 2010 and 2017. South Asians are projected to be the largest immigrant population in the United States by 2065, with communities concentrated in New York, New Jersey, California, and Texas.
Participating in the census will provide data that local leaders, the government, and policy makers need to better engage with and serve the rapidly growing South Asian community. So if you are eligible, fill out the census form!
2. Can South Asians participate in the Census if they were born abroad ?
Yes. You can participate in the census even if you were born abroad but you are a naturalized U.S. citizen, a lawful permanent resident (immigrant), a new immigrant, a green card holder, or a temporary migrant such as foreign student. You can also participate if you are a refugee or asylum seeker (humanitarian migrant) and even if you are undocumented (an unauthorized migrant) or not a citizen, but you are resident in the US. The Census does not ask you for your legal status but collects data on all ‘foreign born’ residents (anyone who is not a US citizen at birth)
You should participate in the census if you are ‘native born’ . That includes anyone who is a US citizen at birth including people born abroad to a US citizen parent(s), in Puerto Rico, a U.S. Island Area (Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands), and of course the US.
3. Does my visa status permit my participation in the census?
Yes. South Asians who are foreign nationals hold specific visas that permit them to live, work and study in the US. In 2018 for example, three-fourths of H1B visa were issued to Indians, over 9.5% of green card recipients and 86% of H-4 visa holders in FY 2017 came from South Asian countries.
South Asians who hold the following visas must complete the Census form:
- H-1B visa – you hold a non-immigrant visa and are a graduate level, specialty worker employed by a US company.
- H- 4 visa – you are the dependent spouse of a H1B worker.
- L1 visa – you are a non-immigrant employee of a US company such as an executive or manager who has transferred from an affiliated foreign office.
- L2 visa – you are the dependent spouse of a L2
- F1- visa – you hold a student visa that is valid for five years from the start date of your program.
- F2-visa – you are a non-immigrant dependent(spouse or child) of an F1 student.
- J-1 visa – you hold an exchange visitor visa issued for a maximum of 5 years, (for example, teachers, professors, research scholars, specialists and au-pairs), who are on educational and cultural exchange programs in the US.
- J-2 visa – you hold a non-immigrant visa as the spouse or dependent (unmarried children under the age of 21) of a J-1 exchange visitor.
- If you hold any of these temporary visas (e.g. E3s, O1s) you do have to fill in the census form based on your situation as of April 1, 2020.
You also can respond to the Census if you are a member of the diplomatic community and a citizen of a foreign country who lives in the United States for six months or more during the 2020 Census. You should be counted at the U.S. residence where you live and sleep most of time or where you were staying on April 1, 2020.
Every US resident irrespective of their long-term visa status will receive a census questionnaire with a unique 12 digit Census ID code. You can fill your information online at my2020census.gov .
4. Does my short-term visa status mean I have to fill out a Census form?
No. You cannot be included in the census if you are a citizen of a foreign country who is temporarily visiting the United States on vacation or business as of April 1, 2020. This includes B1/B2 visa holders – visitors from abroad who are in the US for a short term temporary visit.
5. I don’t speak English fluently and need help filling out the census form.
The Census Bureau provides tools that will allow over 99 percent of all U.S. households to respond to the census in their language – so you have several options.
Paper census forms are available in English and Spanish and the online questionnaire is available in English and 12 other languages.
You also can contact Census Call Center at 301-763-INFO (4636) or 800-923-8282 or ask.census.gov and respond to census questions in these 12 languages.
You also can phone the census hotline at 1-844-330-202 for more information.
Video language guides narrated in more than 59 languages are available to help non-English speakers respond online.
Print language guides and translated web pages are available in 59 non-English languages ( including Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Nepali, Urdu, Telugu, Punjabi, Tamil, Malayalam and Marathi) to help people complete the English paper questionnaire. These guides also are available in American Sign Language, as well as in Braille and large print.
By August through October 2020, census takers who speak the language(s) of their community will follow up in person with households that don’t respond on their own. They will carry a Language Identification Card which has a brief statement in the 59 non-English languages. If the census taker encounters a language barrier at the door, they can request that a census taker who speaks the household’s language returns to complete the interview.
Meera Kymal is a Contributing Editor at India Currents.
Coverage for Census 2020 has been facilitated through a grant from the United Way Bay Area.