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How Immigration Affects U.S. Business and Tech Industries

Despite arguments about social media and the role it plays in our lives, the tech industry holds tremendous promise for world-changing innovations over the coming decades. Engineers, developers, entrepreneurs, and others flock from around the globe to Silicon Valley, Austin, and other American tech hubs to strike it rich and change the world.

Immigrants are playing an increasingly integral part in the growth of America’s tech sector, and thus the country’s economy. Without our country’s immigration laws, many of these founders — and their employees — would not be able to make it big in America. This article will highlight many of those options available and what we can do to make it even easier for immigrants to make it in the American tech sector.

Immigrants Play an Important Role in U.S. Entrepreneurship

Many stereotypes stubbornly persist about the jobs that immigrants perform in the U.S. But the simple fact is that they play an essential role in ensuring the U.S. continues to grow due to its entrepreneurial and risk-taking spirit.

In fact, according to one 2019 report, more than 40% of the country’s 500 richest companies now have an immigrant founder. Imagine the effect on the economy if many of these founders were not able to come to the U.S. in the first place.

Investor Visas for Entrepreneurs

Many of these founders originally came to the U.S. on different visas, which we will discuss below. A popular choice for people who want to come to the U.S. to start a business is the EB-5 visa.

This visa is reserved for people who wish to immigrate to the U.S. and invest money in a new company and create or preserve American jobs. As of 2019, the minimum required investment was $1.8 million or $900,000 for targeted employment areas across the country.

Immigration Creates Access to Qualified Applicants

It’s important to remember that the value of immigrants in U.S. tech companies reaches far beyond the founders. There are a number of visas available for immigrants who want to work in U.S. tech. These include:

  • H-1B visa: The H-1B is one of the most popular visas for tech workers. This visa is available for people who work in specialty fields, such as engineers, scientists, and software developers. Currently, the U.S. government caps these visas at 65,000 per year, although there are instances where an applicant does not count against this cap. H-1B visa holders almost always require sponsorship from a U.S. employer. That means you must work at your sponsoring employer to continue living in the U.S.
  • L-1 visa: This is a visa available for temporary workers who have specialized knowledge. The L-1 visa mostly applies to workers who need to be transferred to the U.S. for a specific amount of time.
  • B-1 visa: This is a “visitor” visa that allows people to temporarily come to the U.S. for business travel purposes.

The more these companies grow, the more job openings they create for other immigrants and Americans alike. Giving them the support they need will be integral in future growth and innovation.

Policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels can continue to encourage American children to become interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers. But there is currently a need for qualified immigrants to fill openings at American tech companies now. Reducing the number of visas available to these workers will only harm American tech companies now.

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