St. Louis – According to the newly released USCIS data numbers of Bosnians in St. Louis, the number of Bosnians who obtained legal permanent residency status (green card) and then U.S. citizenship is well under 10,000 during the past ten years.
In 1999, Bosnians were the largest group that entered the United States under the status of refugees, with over 19,000 people. A significant number of these refugees settled in the city of St. Louis, and over time obtained first their permanent residency and later U.S. citizenship. This number, though significant, may not be as large as it was estimated. Over the years, estimated number of Bosnians in St. Louis reached 70,000+. The current facts, however, point to a different outcome. In the period between 2002 and 2011, a total of 6,060 Bosnians obtained their legal permanent residency status through the USCIS office in St. Louis. The busiest year was 2002, with 1,827 approved applications for permanent residency. The number went down sharply in 2003 with only 664 applications, just to increase to 1,084 in 2004, and 1,625 in 2005. From 2006 onward, however, the number of Bosnian nationals seeking permanent residency in the city of St. Louis declined sharply. In 2006, only 402 Bosnians applied for permanent residency, in 2007, 101. The number increased slightly in 2008 to 163 and then declined again to 96 in 2009, 54 in 2010 and only 44 in 2011.
According to the International Institute in St. Louis, the last Bosnian admitted to the U.S. under the status of refugee who settled in St. Louis arrived in 2005; therefore the decline described above is justified. At the same time, the last refugee relocation programs for Bosnians ceased to operate in late 2001, giving it time to process applications received until 2005.
The number of naturalized Bosnians through the USCIS office in St. Louis by large mirrors the declining trend of permanent residency applications, considering that it takes a few more years of residency after receiving permanent status, to apply for citizenship. In 2003, 324 Bosnians were naturalized, in 2004 that number increased to 498, just to go down in 2005 to 355. In 2006, the number increased again to 434, leading to a peak in 2007 with 656 naturalized Bosnians. In 2008, the numbers went down slightly to 641, even more in 2009 to 419, 2010 to 373, and 2011 to 399, totaling to 4,099 for the 2003-2011 period.
Although, the numbers above are the official numbers of Bosnians who first obtained permanent residency and then U.S. citizenship in St. Louis, it is important to note that they reflect only the number of those who received such statuses through the USCIS office in St. Louis, and they do not reflect the exact number of Bosnians in our city, due to the internal immigration from other states to St. Louis.