Immigrants You Didn’t Know Were American

By Julia at Legal Language
Posted on 07/02/2012
In Immigration



Independence Day is a popular time for naturalization ceremonies, but you may be surprised that these five people who have found success in the US in fact were not born here but came to the country later in life.

Of course, these aren’t the only immigrants who have found fame or fortune in America. Add to our list in the comment section below!

1. Natalie Portman

Israeli actress

Natalie Portman was born Natalie Hershlag in Jerusalem, Israel. Her family moved to Washington DC, when she was three, where her father worked as a medical doctor and fertility specialist. Portman’s family moved from DC to Connecticut, and then Long Island, NY, where Portman attended high school.

Portman attended Harvard College and went on to win a Golden Globe, Academy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award for her roles in “Closer” and “Black Swan.” She has dual American-Israeli citizenship.

2. Sergey Brin

Russian co-founder of Google

Born in Moscow in 1973, Sergey Brin immigrated to the United States at the age of six. Brin’s father, a mathematics professor, felt compelled to leave the Soviet Union due to anti-Semitism. The Brin family settled in Maryland, where Brin received a bachelor of science in computer science and mathematics.

Brin received a graduate fellowship from the National Science Foundation to earn his master’s degree from Stanford University. During his first days at Stanford, Brin met Larry Page, who became a close friend and co-founder of Google. In 2002, Brin, along with Page, was named one of the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35. Brin continues to run the day-to-day operations of Google today.

3. Albert Einstein

German-born physicist

Born in Germany, Albert Einstein was educated as a teacher in physics and mathematics in Switzerland. He renounced his German citizenship in 1933 when he learned of the German government’s new anti-Semitic laws under Adolf Hitler.

Einstein officially immigrated to the United States as a political refugee and accepted a position at Princeton as professor of theoretical physics. He became a United States citizen in 1940. In addition, the prominent scientist helped warn President Franklin Roosevelt that Germany was developing an atomic weapon.

4. Indra Nooyi

Indian-born CEO of PepsiCo

Indra Nooyi was born in Madras, India. She received a bachelor’s degree from Madras Christian College and a post-graduate business degree from the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta.

Nooyi started her career as a product manager at Johnson & Johnson in India. She immigrated to the US as a student at Yale, where she earned a master’s degree in public and private management. After graduate school, Nooyi became a consultant and business strategist, working with notable international companies, including Motorola.

In 1994 Nooyi joined PepsiCo, where she worked through the ranks to eventually become CEO in 2007. Nooyi has consistently been ranked one of the most powerful women in the world by Time Magazine, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal.

5. Arianna Huffington

Greek-born journalist

Born Arianna Stasinopoulou in Athens, Greece, Huffington acquired her name from ex-husband congressman Michael Huffington.

She moved to England to study economics at the age of 16 and graduated from Cambridge University with a master’s degree. She later moved to the US, where she married her husband and rose to national prominence as a vocal supporter of conservative causes.

She shifted political parties in the late 1990s and began appearing as a regular panelist on several political media shows. Huffington went on to build her own website, The Huffington Post, which featured commentary from prominent journalists and celebrities, and which she sold in 2011 to AOL for $135 million.


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