InfoShot: Immigrants & Unicorns

More than half of US-based Unicorns have founders not from the New World.

The subject of immigration and high-skilled visas are a hot topic in US politics right now.

A maximum of 85,000 H-1B visas – the speciality visa that allows non-US workers to gain legal employment within the country – are given out every year. Last year saw 233,000 applications.

Mark Zuckerberg’s FWD.Us lobbying group has called for an increase of the number of visas, while Donald Trump – a leading candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination – has been critical of, and called for a more “Americans first” approach, to employment.

Aside from the fact that many of the US’ biggest tech firms rely on talent imported from abroad, a new study from the National Foundation for American Policy shows that many of the billion-dollar Unicorns based in the US wouldn’t exist at all without immigrants.

The study found that more than half of the US’s 87 $1 billion+ valued startups had at least one immigrant founder. These Unicorn startups – including Uber, Palantir, SpaceX, and AppDynamics – have a collective value of over $168 billion.

The study also found that more than 70% of those 87 startups had key management or product development positions filled by non-US workers. 14 of the 44 expat founders were Indian, with Canada and the UK (both 8), Israel (7) Germany (4), and 15 other nationalities also represented.

These 44 companies also employ more than 20,000 people - not including the 100,000+ indirectly working for Uber as drivers. The American Dream is built on the idea of founding great companies, and without these immigrant founders – many of whom came to the US on H-1B visas – they wouldn’t exist. So does creating policies that attack immigrants make sense?

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