FACT OF THE WEEK: The U.S. Must Welcome Immigrant Entrepreneurs

By at 8 April, 2015, 7:58 pm


Late last month, the Kauffman Foundation published “The Economic Case for Welcoming Immigrant Entrepreneurs,” a snapshot of immigrant entrepreneurs and their importance to our economy.

A few key points include:

  • “[M]ore than 40 percent of the Fortune 500 companies in 2010 were founded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant.”
  • “Immigrants were almost twice as likely to start businesses in 2012 as native-born Americans.”
  • 27.1 percent of new entrepreneurs in 2012 were immigrants, which is up from 13.7 percent in 1996.”


A July 2014 SBE Council analysis highlighted additional points on the role of immigrant entrepreneurs.

The Kauffman publication points to the need for a startup visa: “Research suggests a visa for entrepreneurial immigrants could boost U.S. economic growth and create American jobs. Commonly called a startup visa, this new means of entry would allow immigrant entrepreneurs to start businesses in the United States after satisfying certain funding, employment, or other requirements.”

In the current Congress, for example, the bipartisan Startup Act – H.R. 962 in the House sponsored by Reps. Robert Dold (R-IL) and Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), and S.181 in the Senate sponsored by Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Mark Warner (D-VA) – includes authorization by the Homeland Security secretary to issue conditional immigrant visas up to 75,000, with the conditional basis after four years of “maintaining qualified entrepreneur status.” SBE Council strongly supports this legislation.

Unfortunately, there has been a decline in the rate or level of entrepreneurship in recent years. The U.S. not only needs to reduce tax and regulatory barriers to entrepreneurship, but also barriers to international entrepreneurs who wish to come to the U.S. and contribute to our economy by starting up and building businesses.

Raymond J. Keating, Chief Economist

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