11 January 2012

US migrants' innovation in US business could influence election

A report released by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) has revealed that almost half of the top 50 innovative companies in the US were founded by foreigners. With the presidential election looming and US immigration such a hot topic, some analysts have claimed these findings could prove to be essential.

American visa

As the race for the White House gets underway, US migrants' positive effect could influence the immigration issue.

In total, 48% of the top venture funded companies in the US had at least one migrant founder while 76% had a migrant in an influential management or product development position which helps the company grow. However, the report highlights the fact that US immigration policy still makes it difficult for migrants seeking to start businesses, regardless of whether this will provide jobs for US citizens.

The majority of migrants come from India, India, Canada, Iran and New Zealand although there founders and co-founders from most European countries as well as Asia and South Africa.

The report's author and NFAP's executive director said "Immigrant are increasingly important in driving grown and innovation in America, as evidenced by the role played by foreign born founders and key personnel in the nation's breakthrough companies".

The difficulty in obtaining a US visa is a much debated topic within the American political system, and with the Republican candidates currently battling it out for their party's nomination, the Republican Party’s typically strict views on immigration are likely to be at odds with the NFAP's findings.

Whichever candidate challenges Barack Obama in November's presidential election, immigration is likely to be an important issue. While President Obama has reviewed certain aspects of US immigration policy recently, including allowing undocumented illegal immigrants to stay in the country while their US visa application is processed, he can expect to face tough questions in the run up to November.

Mr Anderson continued "one of the lessons of the research is that America wins when we are open to talented individuals. Policies that help retain talent in the United States are likely to yield both more start up companies and the personnel need to create more jobs and innovation in America".

The American Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries make their ESTA application.

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