Immigrant Business

Immigrants and their children founded 43% of last year’s Fortune 500 companies, startup lobby finds:

If a company lands on the Fortune 500, there’s a good chance it has a founder who is an immigrant or the child of one. Forty-three percent of businesses that made the list in 2017 were immigrant-founded, according to a report from a brand-new entrepreneurship advocacy group.

The Center for American Entrepreneurship (CAE) launched in June, the same day that President Donald Trump’s administration tried to pull the plug on a policy that would allow foreign startup founders to spend several years building their companies in the U.S. On Friday, a judge overturned the delay, compelling immigration officials to begin accepting applications for the International Entrepreneur Rule.

National startup groups celebrated the ruling but it’s just the first step in a long journey. Creating an actual visa category for entrepreneurs is CAE’s goal and the impetus for the new report, which is an update of a 2011 study by the New American Economy.

The 216 Fortune 500 companies founded by a first- or second-generation immigrant employ 12 million people worldwide and with combined revenue of $5.3 trillion last year, the report says. Forty-five of those companies are in the high-tech industry.

CAE isn’t shy about the intentions behind the report. By asking what our economy might look like if Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos or Henry Ford of Ford Motor Company never made it to the U.S., the advocacy group is pushing Congress to make it easier for immigrants to build companies here.

Lawmakers are taking another crack at creating a startup visa, an effort that fell apart when immigration reform failed under President Barack Obama. That collapse led the Obama administration to pass the International Entrepreneur Rule as a workaround for foreign-born founders whose companies meet certain metrics of success. In September of this year, Sens. Jerry Moran and Mark Warner proposed legislation that would create an actual visa category for startup founders. The Startup Act would create 75,000 limited visas for legal immigrants building startups in the U.S.

“Our findings are striking and demonstrate the historical – and continuing – importance of immigrants to the creation and growth of America’s largest and most valuable companies,” CAE President John Dearie told GeekWire in an email. “In particular, our findings amount to compelling evidence supporting the creation of an ‘entrepreneur visa,’ an important aspect of the Startup Act.”


By Monica Nickelsburg @ GeekWire