Immigrant entrepreneurs have played a remarkably outsize role in the growth of the U.S. economy. More than half of the country’s billion-dollar startups were founded by immigrants, and 80% employ immigrants in a management role or in core product design. Consider America’s first four trillion-dollar companies, which together employ nearly 700,000 people in the United States: One was cofounded by an immigrant (Google), two were founded by the children of immigrants (Amazon and Apple), and one is currently run by an immigrant (Microsoft). Immigrants to the U.S have won 39% of the country’s Nobel Prizes, hold 28% of high-impact patents, and earn 31% of the PhDs from American universities, all while comprising only 18% of the American workforce. While native-born Americans are also highly talented, America’s reputation for innovation and scientific excellence brings the world’s best and brightest to our doorstep.
But global competition for these highly skilled professionals is becoming much more intense. Many countries, like the U.K., Australia, and Canada, have implemented immigration pathways specifically for entrepreneurs or, like China, have developed aggressive talent recruitment programs. One Canadian business even launched an ad campaign in California last year to convince tech workers uncertain about their immigration status to abandon their U.S. visa applications and move north.