Tuesday, August 20, 2019 | Updated at 2:01 PM ET


Immigrants in America Create Over $1 Billion for US Businesses

First Posted: Mar 25, 2016 12:56 PM EDT
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Photo : Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A new National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) study finds half of U.S. startups worth upwards of $1 billion were founded by immigrants.

The non-partisan organization recently shared their findings along with the stern recommendation that laws governing the flow of immigrants into this country should be made easier for those looking to launch businesses.

In all, researchers found that immigrant entrepreneurs have started 44 startups worth at least $1 billion, which came out to roughly 51 percent of the companies surveyed.

Immigrants Also Hold Key Management Posts at Profitable Companies

In addition, NFAP Executive Director Stuart Anderson maintains that immigrants also hold key management and product development posts in at least 71 percent of startups valued at more than nine figures.

Anderson added the legal cap on H-1B slows potential entrepreneurs from creating jobs and measures such as the S.2394 recently introduced by Texas senator and Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz would require potential immigrant business owners to work abroad for at least a decade after finishing college to apply.

"What's interesting about this is that not only that half had immigrant founders, it's that most of the companies have immigrants in key positions," said Anderson, noting that researchers are advocating for "a start-up visa" that would allow immigrants who launch business and create jobs to more readily be allowed permanent U.S. residency.

"Even if an immigrant isn't the founder, they are CTO or in a comparably high position that drives innovation and creates jobs for Americans," he added.

Collectively, the 44 companies are worth an estimated $168 million and have over 33,000 workers. On average, each of the companies boasts a staff of 760 with the SpaceX company started by South African Elon Musk having the largest work force at over 4,000 workers.

"These are unusual companies and it's why they're interesting," Anderson said. "They're unicorns because of the rarity of a privately owned company with a billion dollar valuation."

But not everything runs so smoothly.

AppsDynamics founder Jyoti Bansal insists he had to wait seven years to get the U.S. employment-based green card he needed to start his 900-worker strong, $1 billion operation.

Wait for Green Card can be Grueling

"I wanted to leave my job and start a new company but couldn't," he said. "What is most frustrating about the green card process is you have no control over a major part of your life. I have friends who became frustrated with the uncertainty and after years of waiting they finally left the United States."

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issues 65,000 H-1B visas per year with Anderson voicing his full support for each and every one of them.

"The results show that immigrants make many important contributions to the U.S. economy and job creation, and would make even more with intelligent reforms to the legal immigration system," he added.

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