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New Report Highlights Importance of Immigrant Entrepreneurs

file5831263246347.jpgA study by the National Venture Capital Association has strengthened the arguments for reforming the U.S. immigration system and allowing more foreign nationals to take up residence. This report details how immigrant business owners create jobs, increase market share, and support America’s leadership position in the global economy. Other business leaders have also argued that the current closed door policy has stifled innovation and set back the U.S. economy.

The current immigration system is ripe for change. As a longtime immigration attorney, I have observed the brokenness of the current system firsthand. Many deserving immigrants who would help power economic growth are prevented from entering the U.S. because of an overly complicated and outdated system.

This latest report emphasizes that immigrants have founded many of America’s most successful companies including Google, Intel, LinkedIn, and eBay. In addition to these high profile companies, immigrant entrepreneurs are a critical component of the economy, with almost one third of new startups founded by a foreign born entrepreneur.

This study found that although the largest number of immigrant entrepreneurs arrived in the U.S. on employment-sponsored visas, they were also coming through almost every available immigration channel. Forty percent of foreign born entrepreneurs enter the U.S. on employer sponsored visas, with 38 percent entering as students. Another 13 percent enter through family sponsored visas, and the remainder enters through all other channels.

The importance of immigrant entrepreneurs to the U.S. economy is difficult to underestimate. The report found that publicly traded companies with immigrant founders had a market capitalization of almost $900 billion. This market value was distributed across many industries including telecommunications, manufacturing, life sciences, media, energy, and finance.

Immigrant entrepreneurs are also vital to the U.S. job market. According to the study, almost 600,000 people were employed by immigrant founded companies, the vast majority of whom were Americans. This translates into almost 2,500 jobs for each company.
In a poll conducted by the study’s authors, almost 79 percent of company founders, both U.S. and foreign born, felt that the immigration system was too great an obstacle for immigrant entrepreneurs. Almost 90 percent of those polled also believed a startup visa category should be created to help the U.S. economy.

Many business leaders have also pointed to the restrictive immigration policies as a reason that the U.S. is falling behind other countries in innovation. Brad Field, the founder of the venture capital company Foundry Group, has decried the immigration system that shuts out the bold and inventive business leaders necessary for sustained growth. He points to other countries like Canada and Britain, where immigration is more expansive and where product innovation fueled by immigrant entrepreneurs is driving economic growth.

As an immigration lawyer, I have witnessed firsthand how the U.S. immigration system has locked out many of the most deserving immigrants. While I understand that this is in part due to national security concerns, there is considerable room for debate about whether government leaders should consider changes.

Lyttle Law Firm, PLLC has helped produce successful outcomes for employers and employees involved in immigration or family law issues. To learn more about how Lyttle Law Firm can help you, please call (512) 215-5225.