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Immigrants are business owners in the U.S.

Too frequently in the national debate, we hear that immigrants are “taking our jobs” when in fact, people should say that “they are giving me a job.” Immigrants own more than 1.4 million businesses in the U.S. and this group of foreign born business owners constitutes 12% of the total U.S. workforce and 12.5% of the total population of U.S. business owners, according to a survey from the Small Business Administration which used Census data.

The data shows that immigrant business owners generate $67 billion of the $577 billion in U.S. business income. Immigrants from Mexico are the largest share of immigrant business owners, but people from all around the world come to the U.S. to start new businesses.

Which state in the U.S. has more immigrant business owners?

California is the top destination for immigrants who become business owners. But here is a map of immigrant business owners per state, city and the countries they come from. The data used for this map comes from two different surveys, one from the Small Business Administration and another one from the Census Survey of Business Owners which reflects minority business owners (foreign and U.S. born).


The impact of immigrant business owners by state (blue), city (pink) and country (yellow) 


Investor visas for business owners

There are several ways for immigrants to come legally to the United States and to start a new business or to expand an existing businesses:

EB-5: This requires an investment of $1 million U.S. dollars in urban areas, or at least half million in rural areas, in exchange for an opportunity to gain permanent residency or green card. [Learn more]

E2: This visa does not require a minimum amount of investment but the larger that figure, the better chance of obtaining this visa. It only applies to immigrants from nations that have signed a trade agreement with the U.S. Investment activities include purchase of a new business but that investment must be more than half the total value of the enterprise or, if a new business, an amount normally considered necessary to establish the business. [Learn more]

L1: Immigrants, who are already business owners in their country of origin, can be eligible for an L1 visa if they open a new office in the U.S. This visa is commonly used for executives who are transferred from abroad to work in the U.S. within a multinational company. [Learn more]

Other immigrant business owners came to the U.S. as spouses of a U.S. citizen, refugees, or even as undocumented immigrants who decided to start new businesses for various other reasons.

Our thanks to Thanks to Tania Lara! for the great research on this one. If we can help you deal with USCIS with the translations you need, we’re here for you.