A recent study by the Fiscal Policy Institute shows that the immigrant share of small business ownership in the U.S. has risen to 18 percent from 12 percent two decades ago. Although immigrants account for only 13 percent of the population, they now make up more than one in six small business owners in the U.S.
According to David Dyssegaard Kallick, senior fellow at the Fiscal Policy Institute, immigrants “come here as risk takers as they pull up roots from their own country and look for a fresh start.” Immigrant business ownership directly impacts economic growth. The report finds that 4.7 million U.S. workers are employed by immigrant owned firms, which gather $776 billion in revenues.
The largest group of immigrant business owners are in the professional and business service sector, followed by retail and construction and educational and social services. Specifically, immigrants own restaurants, real estate firms, grocery stores and physician’s offices. The top country of birth for immigrant business owners is Mexico, followed by India, South Korea, Cuba, and China.
Currently, the U.S. allows about 140,000 immigrants to gain permanent residence each year based on employment guidelines. However, according to a study by Duke University, nearly one million people are waiting for visas that would allow them to stay and become workers or small business owners. Naveem Jain, an entrepreneur from India who has started several firms, states that “the simple fix is to increase the numbers of visas for skilled immigrants and to grant residency to every student who graduates from the top colleges…there is nothing that will provide an economic boost, at almost no cost, like this can.”