Immigrants play key role in US technology industry

A new study highlights just how important a role immigrants have played in America’s technology industry.

Research carried out by the non-partisan think -tank National Foundation for American Policy, shows that immigrants started more than half of the current crop of US-based start-ups valued at US$1 billion or more.

The foundation examined 87 US companies that were valued at US$1 billion or more as of 1st January and found that 44 were founded by immigrants. According to the study these companies are collectively valued at US$168 billion and create an average of roughly 760 jobs per company in the US. What’s more it is estimated that immigrants make up over 70 per cent of the key management or product development positions at these companies.

The three highest valued U. companies with immigrant founders include car-hailing service Uber Technologies Inc., data-software company Palantir Technologies Inc. and rocket maker Space Exploration Technologies Inc.

Some of America’s leading technology entrepreneurs, including Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, have long been lobbying the American government for an increase in the number of H-1B visas available for skilled foreign workers each year. They argue that immigration greatly benefits the tech community, and that it is difficult for companies to hire foreign-born workers and for immigrant entrepreneurs to start businesses due to the visas’ constraints.

Currently, only 65,000 specialised workers can be awarded H-1B visas each fiscal year, with a further 20,000 set aside for applicants who hold a Masters level degree or higher.

Article by David Fuller