Expatriates were the brains behind America’s technology boom according to new research. However, the countries visa and immigration processes mean that the US may lose out to overseas economies in the future.
The internet trends report, which is authored by Mary Meeker of venture capital firm KPCB, revealed that over 50% of America’s top technology companies were founded by first or second generation expatriates from overseas. According to the report, multinational giants such as Google, Facebook, Intel, EBay and LinkedIn were all the brain children of first generation expatriates who have settled in the United States, thus supporting claims that expatriates in the US have made a considerable contribution to the US economy and created jobs for many American citizens.
“This research shows just how important expats are to the US economy and how hard the government should work to encourage them,” said the report. “Some of these corporations are working together to influence US immigration policy to make sure we can keep the best brains and nurture their ideas.”
The report also criticizes the US government’s treatment of expatriates, claiming that while American universities educate many promising innovators from abroad, it fails to provide the legal avenues needed to allow such technologists to develop their ideas in the United States after completing their studies. Meeker warns that failure to overhaul the visa process will result in promising entrepreneurs taking their ideas elsewhere, such as to Europe or Asia, after finishing university in the states. She argues that immigration issues are “already leading many American companies to set up offshore subsidiaries to nurture talent and innovation. The money from these projects is flowing into other countries and the government should act to reverse the flow.”
“Immigration policy caps the number of visas for technology workers at 85,000,” she added.
“The demand from companies is for two or three times more and supply just cannot keep up. The number of US born science, math and technology graduates has dropped by a third in recent years and we need these expat graduates to keep up with the rest of the world.”