Resources on the Iranian American Community - PAAIA


Demographic Info

  • Population Size: Estimates of the size of the Iranian American community range from 500,000 to one million
  • Age: The majority (59%) are between the ages of 25 and 64
  • Religion: Muslim (24%), Christian (16%), Agnostic (10%), Atheist (8%), Zoroastrian (7%), Jewish (6%), and Baha’i (4%)
  • Education: 87% have at least a Bachelor’s degree
  • Party Affiliation: 48% identify as Democrats, 15% as Republicans, and 36% as Independents
  • Familial Immigration: 35% moved to the U.S. before 1978, 24% moved between 1928 and 1980, 32% moved between 1981 and 1999, and only 9% have immigrated here since 2000
  • Relationship Status: 56% are Married, 31% are Single & have never been married, 11% are Divorced or Widowed, and 1% are in a Civil Union or Domestic Partnership

**Data obtained from PAAIA’s annual National Public Opinion Surveys and
the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey

Economic Info

  • Income < $50k: 16%
  • Income $50k-$100k: 29%
  • Income > $100k: 49%
  • Median Family Income: $97,046
  • Employed: 66%
  • Entrepreneurial: self-employment rate of 22%, ranking them in the top 25 immigrant groups with the highest self-employment rate
  • Occupations: 60% work in Business, Science, Management, or the Arts
  • Positions: 50% of all working Iranian Americans are in professional and managerial occupations, greater than any other group in the U.S. today

**Data obtained from PAAIA’s annual National Public Opinion Surveys, the
U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, and Ronald H. Bayer’s 
Multicultural America: An Encyclopedia of the Newest Americans

Geographic Info


East: 23%     South: 23%     Central: 12%     West: 42%

**Data obtained from PAAIA’s annual National Public Opinion Surveys and the Iranian American Contributions Project

2020 Survey Highlights

Made withVisme

PAAIA conducts annual surveys of Iranian Americans to inform our policy stances,
educate the public, and raise the voice of the community.


Made withVisme

PAAIA’s biennial Congressional Scorecards aim to inform Iranian Americans of the voting records of their members of Congress and to hold members accountable for their positions.

Fact Sheets & Highlights

View the Accomplishments Page
This page covers some of PAAIA’s major 2018 accomplishments, linking to the relevant articles and events.
View the Fact Sheet PDF
This PAAIA fact sheet covers Iranian American education, employment, economic impact, entrepreneurship, philanthropy, and public service.
View the Fact Sheet PDF
This fact sheet explains the mission and pillars of PAAIA and its affiliated organizations
View the Highlights PDF
Learn about what PAAIA did during 2018 including our launch of an innovation campaign, our work to end the Travel Ban including our lawsuit, our public sector fellowships, and more.
View the Highlights PDF
Learn about what PAAIA did during 2017 including our launch of the Ansari Fellowship Program and the Emerging Leaders Program, our Nowruz celebrations, Capitol Hill Days, profile-raising campaign, and more.
View the Highlights PDF
Learn what PAAIA did in 2016, including the Telly Award we received, our panel briefings, national surveys, social media anti-prejudice campaign, our JCPOA compliance report, our work around the Visa Waiver Program, and more.
View the Highlights PDF
Learn what PAAIA did from March 2014 to August 2015.  This includes our Immigration & Assimilation Report, our panel briefings, MENA category advocacy, JCPOA Campaign, and more.
View the Fact Sheet PDF The Iranian Studies Group at MIT released this 2003 fact sheet that covers Iranian American educational attainment, income levels, population size, and Fortune 500 businesses.

Downloadable Reports

View the Report

The Congressional Research Service released a report about visa overstays in November of 2023. The report explains that there is a high visa denial rate for nonimmigrants who have family members in the United States due to concerns that they will overstay their visas. It explicitly highlights the Temporary Family Visitation Act (TFVA) as a policy solution to address these overstay concerns.  

View the Report PDF

Marking the one-year anniversary of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), PAAIA commissioned Global Impact Strategies (giStrat) to conduct a scientific report on the implementation of the nuclear agreement between the P5+1 coalition (U.S., U.K., France, Russia, China, and Germany) and Iran. The report provides data-driven evidence and strategies to strengthen compliance on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

View the Report PDF
The Rand Corporation released a comprehensive non-partisan report that explores a range of possible roles Congress could play in the implementation of a final nuclear agreement with Iran.  The report outlines Congress’s options for shaping the implementation of a nuclear agreement with Iran, and assesses the likelihood and impacts of each.
View the Report PDF
This PAAIA report covers the three major waves of Iranian American immigration to the United States, explaining reasons for immigrating and obstacles encountered.  It also covers patterns and challenges of assimilation, revealing Iranian Americans to be very well-assimilated into American culture.
View the Report PDF
The Atlantic Council’s Iran Task Force released a report reviewing ambiguities in the JPA and discussing various ways that the U.S. can reduce sanctions on Iran.
View the Report PDF
This report, authored by Ramin Asgard, a former Foreign Service Officer with the Department of State, and published by PAAIA, makes the case for re-establishing a U.S. official diplomatic presence in Iran. It briefly explores the historic background contributing to the current lack of U.S. official presence in Iran, highlights the importance of an official U.S. presence to the Iranian American community, and outlines the reasons why an official U.S. presence is in America’s national security interest. In addition, the report explores the opposition, risks, and obstacles involved in re-establishing such a presence, offers a notional timeline and description of how an initial official U.S. presence in Iran could be re-established, and highlights lessons from U.S. diplomatic history as to how and why such a process might unfold.
View the Report PDF
The Atlantic Council’s Iran Task Force recommends a long-term strategy that offers the Iranian government a face-saving exit from the nuclear crisis and seeks to lay the groundwork for better relations with the Iranian people.  The report calls for retooling sanctions to alleviate their impact on ordinary Iranians and to facilitate humanitarian trade and academic and cultural exchanges, as well as stationing American diplomats at an Interests Section in Tehran.
View the Report PDF
The Fiscal Policy Institute’s Immigration Research Initiative released this report that looks at small businesses and immigrant small business owners.  It answers questions like: what is the role of small businesses in the U.S. economy?  What role do immigrants play in small businesses?  What immigrant groups are most likely to successfully own and operate small businesses?  What is the educational attainment of these immigrant business owners?
View the Report PDF
The Unintended Victims report, which was a collaborative venture between the Asian Law Caucus, PAAIA, the Iranian American Bar Association, and the National Iranian American Council, examines the unintended, yet harsh, impact the sanctions have had, and continue to have, on Iranian Americans and other U.S. persons.
View the Report PDF
The report, published by the Iran Project, does not advocate for or against sanctions; nor does it make specific policy recommendations. It seeks fact-based objectivity whenever possible in describing some of the implications for American interests of the international sanctions regime against Iran. In addition, it offers some general observations about the challenge of making sanctions work—that is, getting the greatest possible advantage from the sanctions imposed against Iran, while minimizing potential negative impacts.
View the Report PDF
The report, built upon PAAIA’s Report on Iran Sanctions Legislation, 111th Congress, published in November 2009, includes a historical summary of U.S. sanctions, an overview of the additional sanctions imposed as well as certain other legislation under consideration during the 112th Congress, and a balanced review of available research assessing the impact of sanctions on achieving desired U.S. policy outcomes.
View the Report PDF
The purpose of this PAAIA report is to outline the background and significance of some of the sanctions legislation under consideration in the 111th Congress.
View the Report PDF
The objective of this Small Business Administration study is to provide a set of estimates of immigrant business owners in the U.S. economy.  Using data from three large nationally representative government datasets, this study also examine the contribution of immigrant businesses to the U.S. economy.
View the Report PDF
The Iranian Studies Group at MIT has compiled socioeconomic statistics from the U.S. 2000 Census data that are of importance to the Iranian-American community. The statistics suggest that Iranian-Americans are among the most educated and successful communities in the U.S.
View the Report PDF
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy investigated Iranian students studying in the United States, and while they only make up about 1% of international students studying here, they hold several notable distinctions. More than 80% study at the graduate level–the highest percentage of any country, more than 75% are enrolled in STEM fields, 56% study engineering, and the majority indicate a preference towards staying in the United States after graduation.

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