GM Building Detroit, Michigan


Detroit, Michigan, is a city that certainly has what to offer. There are many reasons Detroit’s population has been on a steady decline over the last half-century. Some of those are the cost of living, which is below the national average and more affordable housing than in other major American cities.

Following trends across Michigan state whose about 7% of residents are immigrants and almost 1 in 12 residents is a native-born U.S. citizen with at least one immigrant parent, this the fourth largest city in America continues attracting people who consider changing their place of residence. Detroit’s immigration remains an integral part of its shape.

If you have recognized yourself as a person who’s attracted to what Detroit has to offer, keep reading. This article will provide you with firm reasons to follow your dreams and help you better understand your potential new environment.

Male immigrants in English class in Ford Motor Co. Factory, circa 1909-20.

Short History of Migrations in Detroit

Immigrants have played a vital role in Detroit’s history and diversity in Southeastern Michigan. If you want to move here, you’d be wise to learn about the city’s past. Detroit is known for its rich history, and much of it can be attributed to movements that continue to shape the city.

Firstly, most immigrants to the United States and Detroit came from northern and western Europe, and later they were followed by eastern and southern Europeans. Detroit once was the third-largest U.S. settlement for immigrants.

Early Detroiters were the European settlers that arrived in Southeastern Michigan in 1701. Following the French and Indian War, Detroit got new habitants – British traders. This gave a new look to the city, but it began to grow after it passed into American hands along with the migration of “Yankees and Yorkers.”

In the nineteenth century, large numbers of Irish and Germans arrived in Michigan, but Detroit was also a picked destination for immigrants from England, Scotland, and Scandinavian countries. Later on, before the restrictions on migrations, Detroit immigrants were drawn from Russia, Hungary, Italy, Greece, and other European countries. However, the largest Detroit immigration group was Canadians.

The main reason for the boom years of immigration in Detroit was the rapid expansion of the automobile industry. Besides people from most of the European countries, this migration also drew people from American farms, as well as miners from Pennsylvania and Indiana, because of a simultaneous coal-mining slump. There was a small African American community that existed in Detroit for more than 150 years.

However, During this Detroit immigration, African Americans coming from the southeast were a significant part of it.

These various migrations of people from all around Europe made Detroit a place for Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and Jewish, until restrictive laws passed and severely limited all immigration.

After World War I, Detroit experienced some of the worst economic conditions of any city in America, which virtually stopped Detroit’s immigration. However, migrations began again during World War II as Detroit started to convert to military production, and the primary labor force came from American farms once again.

In the post-war years, the state started to relax strict immigration laws periodically and to accommodate displaced persons and refugees from various parts of the world. Eventually, besides displaced Europeans, thousands of Arabic, Hispanic, Asian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese immigrants came to Detroit.

Welcome Center for recent Mexican and other Latino immigrants for the City of Detroit

What Attracts Immigrants to Detroit Today?

Living with little municipal support for years, Detroiters developed a strong network of clubs, neighborhood associations, and community groups to get things done.

These groups provide residents with a sense of belonging and organize neighborhood cleanups, celebrations, patrols, gardens, development plans, housing stabilization, and much more. Thanks to these robust existing systems, it’s often easy to get involved and provide immediate support to the neighborhood.

This makes Detroit one of the most welcoming cities in the United States. Furthermore, access to many state offices makes even greater support for newcomers. Immigrants in Detroit can easily cope with the necessary bureaucracy and quickly get things done without having the urge to travel for it to distant cities.

Besides, job labor market, space for entrepreneurs, top education, and medical institutes, Detroit made sure that immigrants have access to the most significant state offices.

Here, you will find:

In the Michigan region, you may find more than 9000 non-profits. In Detroit, nonprofits serving immigrants that you will most probably come across are the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit and Global Detroit.

Now when you see that this city provides newcomers for security, let’s look further into how Detroit is going to make you love it and feel like home in it.

We're hiring

Job Opportunities for Immigrants in Detroit

Most people move from where they were born to look for an opportunity for better jobs and the space for development. But why do so many of them choose Detroit?

In 2014, it was estimated that because of the role immigrants play in the workforce helping companies keep jobs on U.S. soil, the immigrants living in Detroit helped create or preserve 1768 local manufacturing jobs that would have otherwise vanished or moved elsewhere.

In an opinion article, Steve Tobocman, executive director of Global Detroit and John Austin, director of the Michigan Economic Center, highlighted the main key points of seeing immigrants as the main prosperity drivers in Michigan.

In 2017, over 23,000 of entrepreneurs were immigrants, and in the same year in Detroit, startups received more than $62M from venture capital firms.

Moreover, Detroit has been considered one of the top 10 innovative hubs in the United States, outranking cities like Chicago, Denver, and Portland. Innovations in the auto industry are well-known since 75% of the U.S. automotive industry R&D investment is located in Michigan. But, other areas like tech and the life sciences are seeing a surge in development too.

In 2019, the bipartisan non-profit New American Economy released a new analysis. The data demonstrated the vital role of immigrants in revitalizing Detroit’s economy. Detroit again ended up on the list of top 25 U.S. cities for small businesses.

The number of incubators and accelerators is also increasing. More than a dozen of it is in and around Detroit, and even more than 40% of funded startups in the Detroit area are information technology companies. Southeastern Michigan has more tech-related jobs anywhere else in the Midwest, creating top-notch job opportunities for its qualified residents.

Migrants Children Hands on US flag

Integrations in Detroit

Inclusion and diversity have been the backbone of Detroit. According to the New American Economy rankings, Detroit was ranked as a Top Ten city in 2018, among America’s 100 largest cities for its integration policies and the socioeconomic success of its immigrant and refugee residents.

The Office of Immigrant Affairs (OIA) plays an essential role in the integration of immigrants. OIA helps immigrants integrate into the community. The promotion of economic development within immigrant communities across Detroit is one of the key aims that OIA strives to.

Supporting new and existing immigrant communities and residents, OIA creates diverse programs and ensures access to resources and programs. It encourages the efforts to make Detroit a welcoming city for immigrants and existing residents alike.

On its way to achieving these goals, OIA collaborates with federal, state, and local governing bodies, non-profit organizations, and community stakeholders.

Created to help grow Michigan’s economy, the Office of Global Michigan works on retaining and attracting global talents, focusing areas of work on licensing, workforce training, education, housing, healthcare, and quality of life. Its programs promote the skills, energy, and entrepreneurial spirit of immigrant and refugee communities and analyze such an environment.

It also cooperates with state agencies that provide immigrants and refugees, helping to overcome barriers to access. It also has a responsible and influential task – to recommend Governor on necessary policies and programs.

To make this recommendation more purposeful, it closely collaborates with refugee resettlement agencies, economic development organizations, ethnic service providers, non-profits, universities, etc.

Detroit truly welcomes its new citizens. There are citizenship and naturalization ceremonies that are taking place across the country each year.

Beautiful african female student with group of international students outdoor in the city in the summer


Universities in Detroit also strive to make the time during studies more convenient for its students. Most immigrants in Michigan have pursued an education at or above the college level.

There are some of the best universities in the state in the Michigan area, and here, we will list those that have opened international offices to help immigration students:

  • University of Michigan: With a 200-year relationship with Detroit, the University of Michigan can boast one more thing: its students come from more than 120 countries. As such, Michigan University has well-organized The Office of International Affairs that welcomes its students in a thriving international community, helping them transition to student life in the United States and support them during their stay.
  • The University of Detroit Mercy is the largest and most comprehensive Catholic University in Michigan. It was firstly founded in 1877, but in 1990, it consolidated with Mercy College of Detroit and formed the University of Detroit Mercy. Within its international service, University educates and enforces immigration regulations, ensures the compliance of the university and immigration students, and advises newly admitted and current F and J visa holders.
  • Wayne State University: Gaining its first accreditation in 1915, Wayne State University strives to be a thriving institution known for academic and research superiority, seeing their students as successful professionals. It is located at the heart of Detroit’s cultural center, surrounded by museums, theaters, and close to major professional sports venues. It has also opened the Office of International Students and Scholars in place for all questions and concerns of students coming abroad.
Hospital Beds


Healthcare facilities are vital at any stage in life. They become even more important if you have to think about your children’s health or if you are nearing retirement age.

Easy access to good healthcare can exponentially increase your quality of life, so be on the lookout for towns and cities with good hospitals and medical schools. Often, there will be a correlation between cities and the quality of healthcare.

Detroit is home to some of the top-ranking medical institutions in the state, such as:

Also, some medical institutions have international offices to ensure their international patients are treated equally and get the necessary medical help.

When you apply for a green card in the United States, you will probably have to get a medical examination that can be conducted only by a doctor who is authorized by USCIS. In Detroit, there are more than a hundred of authorized doctors.

Ethnic Festivals

Ethnic Festivals

We already mentioned how rich Detroit’s history is. Still, when it comes to Detroit’s musical heritage, it can outrank many other cities if we talk about the number of talents per total population.

Some of the musical legends are from Detroit, as Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Yusef Lateef, and the list goes on. By hosting a population from around the globe, this artistic community cherishes its diversity by ensuring that visitors, but in the first place themselves, learn about the unique groups that make the city so special.

Here are some of the ethnic festivals that Detroit hosts each year:

  1. Arab and Chaldean Festival was established as a non–profit community organization, and it has hosted artists from all over the Middle Eastern community.
  2. African World Festival is organized by The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History to explore and celebrate the rich cultural legacy of African Americans.
  3. St. Joseph Oktoberfest is an annual event that celebrates German culture. This festival takes place at Detroit’s St. Joseph Catholic Church
  4. Caribbean Cultural Festival celebrates the rich traditions of the various nations in the sunny, tropical region. For the three days, you enjoy Caribbean music and participate in Zumba and Salsa workshops, eating a variety of authentic food and beverage options.
  5. American Polish Festival will present you with a diverse mix of local music, polkas, folk dancers, arts and crafts.
  6. Detroit Greek Independence Day Parade proudly works on the promotion and preservation of Hellenic heritage.
Belle Isle Fountain

Sports and Recreations

If you like outdoor activities than after finding out about what Detroit can offer you, you will consider it one more advantage to move here.

You can spend your leisure time visiting some beautiful places such as Belle Isle Conservancy, Palmer Park, River Rouge, The Riverwalk, Chandler Park, or Historic Fort Wayne, or you can explore some of the sports and recreation opportunities in the Metro Detroit area. Joining recreation clubs can be an excellent place to meet other people as well.

As a home of the most prominent clubs in prevalent sports in the United States such as Detroit Pistons an NBA team, Detroit Lions in NFL league, Detroit Tigers Baseball team, or MLB Detroit Red Wings in Hockey, this “City of Champions” creates opportunities for those more ambitious wishing to start a professional sports career.

Immigrants have had a notable role in Detroit’s sports life during history, but they continue to exemplify how diverse communities can synergically make outstanding results.

Detroit’s Tigers justified this by winning four consecutive division titles and more regular games than any other team in Major League Baseball in the same year. At this time, three key players in the team’s success were born in Venezuela: Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and Anibal Sanchez.

Local Ethnic Media

Local Ethnic Media

Ethnic media is formed with a particular ethnic minority group or ethnic minority community in mind. Detroiters recognize the importance of ethnic media in a community composed of people all around the world.

Its presence raises the capacity of ethnic news to inform and engage audiences belonging to diverse minority groups on broader public issues. Communities having well-established ethnic media strive to build a more inclusive participatory democracy.

In Michigan, you will find more than twenty ethnic media. Media organizations such as New Michigan Media, The Jewish News, The Arab American News, and Latino are only some of the dozens of ethnic media that help in building bridges among ethnic, minority, and immigrant communities in Detroit.

They deliver various and relevant information in hundreds of thousands of readers, viewers, and listeners in the Michigan media market.

Immigration Lawyers

Lawyers and Borders Attorneys in Detroit

It may be complicated and confusing for some people to maneuver through the naturalization and court process. Yet, Detroit is home to some outstanding, experienced immigration lawyers in Detroit and border attorneys.

If you need an immigration lawyer, you can contact the Herman Legal Group whose offices are close to USCIS and Immigration Court, and are experienced in serving many clients at these offices.

Moreover, speaking over 12 languages, including Russian, Arabic, Spanish, and Japanese, lawyers within Herman Legal Group are professionals who will listen to you and profoundly obtain relevant facts to provide you with the best advice regarding your status.

Besides, there are other prominent law offices specialized in immigration law, such as Alan Reiter, PLLC, Legalquest Network, and many more that you can check out on our list of top-ten immigration attorneys in Michigan.


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