Washington: More than a million foreigners were granted their green cards, a document attesting to legal residence, in the United States in the fiscal year 2010 that ended in September, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said.

According to DHS data released on Thursday, many of the 1,042,625 new legal permanent residents (54 per cent) already lived in the America when they were granted their green cards.

Nearly two-thirds of the new recipients obtained the legal residency status based on family ties to a US citizen or legal US permanent resident.

Their top countries of birth were Mexico (13 per cent), China (seven per cent) and India (seven per cent).

Under the Immigration Act of 1990, the Department places an annual limit on the number of new applicants of between 416,000 and 675,000 for family-sponsored preference, employment-based preference and diversity immigrants.

The number of family-sponsored applicants are limited to 226,000 to 480,000 per year.

Despite the number of green cards issued each year, some 10.8 million undocumented aliens still live in the United States, according to DHS figures.