To most Americans, April 1st is known as April Fools’ Day, but to immigration attorneys and many of their clients, April 1st is better known as the day when U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) begins accepting petitions that will be counted against the coming fiscal year’s allocation of H-1B visas.
Over the past year, many presidential candidates and much of the press coverage of H-1B visas claims the visa category has caused layoffs in the United States, and in turn, companies have been vilified for using H-1B visas. While this coverage may garner lots of clicks and even a few votes, it’s important to keep in mind that H-1B visas provide a valuable bridge for skilled foreigners to work in the United States while they wait the many years it takes to obtain an employment-based green card.
So, while I’m certain that this April 1st will see the publication and airing of even more anti-H-1B rhetoric, I offer that April 1st is also a good day to remember the vital role that immigration plays in making our economy more robust.
With that in mind, I’m sharing a recent Forbes article titled Immigrants And Their Billion Dollar Startups. The article, which is based on a study conducted by the National Foundation for American Policy, a non-partisan, non-profit think tank, notes that
Immigrants have started more than half (44 of 87) of America’s startup companies valued at a billion dollars or more and are key members of management or product development teams in over 70% (62 of 87) of these companies. The research finds that among the billion dollar startup companies, immigrant founders have created an average of approximately 760 jobs per company in the U.S.
The collective value of the 44 immigrant-founded companies is $168 billion, which is close to half the value of the stock markets of Russia or Mexico.
Lest we become the fools this April 1st and beyond, we shouldn’t lose sight of the important contributions that immigrants make to our economy, nor should we ignore the fact that many of those entrepreneurial immigrants worked on H-1B visas before starting billion dollar companies and creating jobs for hundreds or even thousands of American workers.