Immigrant Entrepreneurs - Creating Jobs and Strengthening the Economy

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - 7:00pm

Executive Summary

There is widespread agreement across a number of key economic planning groups that immigrant entrepreneurs create jobs and strengthen the economy.1 Yet, the U.S. immigration system often forces out immigrant entrepreneurs, driving them to other countries that are competing for international talent.

Although many people recognize the giants of immigrant entrepreneurship, such as Sergey Brin of Google and Pierre Omidyar of eBay, thousands of other science and technology businesses are quietly making a difference by creating almost half a million jobs for Americans and generating revenue of more than $50 billion. The depth and breadth of immigrant entrepreneurs extend across the spectrum of enterprises, including neighborhood, growth, and transnational businesses.

Expansion of employment-based visas would allow companies’ access to high-potential foreign individuals who are graduates of U.S. universities. Businesses, cities, and states across the country should support changes in visa policy and work to develop partnerships with immigrant entrepreneurs to create jobs and strengthen the economy.

This report makes the following policy and action recommendations:

• Create an entrepreneur-friendly culture for employment-based benefit adjudications at the Department of
Homeland Security ensuring that the staff charged with adjudicating such visa petitions has the proper
training concerning how businesses operate in the 21st century, including expertise with business models
for start-ups.

• Cut red tape by eliminating the bureaucratic procedures that restrict entrepreneurs trying to emigrate to
the United States to start businesses and hire American workers.

• Create a visa category specifically targeted for immigrant entrepreneurs who want to establish a
U.S. enterprise and create jobs. Current law typically only permits foreign nationals to remain in the
United States if they are employed by an existing company or can invest $500,000 or more.

• Remove hurdles for foreign students with desirable skills to remain in the United States, focusing on
those who complete graduate degrees in the United States and are offered employment by
U.S. companies.

• Recognize that immigrant entrepreneurship occurs