Immigration and High-Impact, High-Tech Entrepreneurship

Our study shows that the founding teams of about 16 percent of a nationally representative sample of high-impact, high-tech companies – the kind of company that is most critical for long-term economic growth – include at least one immigrant. These immigrant entrepreneurs are deeply-rooted in the U.S.; about 77 percent, for instance, are U.S. citizens. Most are well-educated and have substantial professional experience. Our evidence does not allow us to rule out the possibility that the immigrant entrepreneurs “crowd out” comparable natives, but we incline toward the view that immigrants and natives complement one another. We outline three policy options that might expand the pool of potential high-impact, high-tech immigrant entrepreneurs over the long-term: clearing the green card backlog, easing the pathway from student visa to work visa to green card, and creating a “point system” for a limited number of unsponsored green card applicants.
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