White House Memo Recognizes Immigrants as Innovators

By Guest Contributor Sabine Weyergraf – www.weyergrafimmigraiton.com


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According to a July 2015 White House memo, “Modernizing our visa system to meet the needs of the 21st century is critical to ensuring that we continue to reap the cultural and economic benefits of an immigration system that encourages innovators and entrepreneurs to build lives in the United States and contribute their vitality and creativity to our economy.”


This is a special report that reviews a number of initiatives that are underway or will be underway to revise the U.S. legal immigration system and make it more efficient and effective.


The report highlighted a number of findings in a 2010 study by Jennifer Hunt and Marjolaine Gauthier-Loiselle. Their research confirms that immigrants are exceptional workers and innovators, and often highly entrepreneurial.


Their entrepreneurial spirit helps them to start businesses that create job opportunities for millions of Americans.


Some of the study’s findings include:

  • 25 percent of companies backed by venture capital between 1991 and 2006 were started by immigrants.
  • Immigrants started a quarter of engineering and technology companies founded between 1995 and 2005.
  • In May 2012, the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Advocacy found that immigrants have high business formation rates and create successful businesses that hire immigrant and U.S citizen employees and export goods and services.
  • The study found that immigrants file patents at two times the rate of U.S.-born workers. This may have a direct correlation to immigrants’ relatively heavy representation in science, engineering, and other technical occupations. However, analysis revealed that immigrants in those fields patent at an above-average rate even when compared to other U.S.-born scientists and engineers.
  • Hunt and Gauthier-Loiselle found that high-skilled immigration has significant spillover effects. The rate of patenting by U.S.-born innovators doubles in response to a one percentage-point increase in the percentage of immigrant college graduates.
  • Encouraging high-skilled immigration can increase the rate of technological innovation in the United States, increasing the productivity of American workers and growing the economy.
  • Even outside the high-tech sector, immigrants are more than twice as likely to form new businesses in a given month compared to U.S-born individuals, according to the 2012 SBA report, and immigrants are significantly more likely to run a company with more than 10 workers.
  • A study by the Partnership for a New American Economy reported that more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children. The study also noted that these companies are responsible for many jobs here and abroad—employing more than 10 million people worldwide—and that they generate annual revenues of $4.2 trillion.


The decision to immigrate is a complex one. The United States is a magnet for skilled immigrants who bring their innovation and entrepreneurship to grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. The United States has flexible labor markets that are able to integrate immigrants relatively quickly. The country also recognizes the skill premium where exceptional ability and willingness to work hard are compensated in the form of higher income, education and job training.



Sabine Weyergraf is founding partner and New York licensed attorney practicing solely immigration law with Weyergraf Immigration, PA in Sarasota, Florida.
Contact: 941-706-4102, sabine@weyergrafimmigration.com

This article is provided for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice.



Michael Monnot

12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907



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Michael Monnot


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Michael Monnot


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