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Maximizing Immigrant Entrepreneurs’ Economic Potential

Washington, DC – Post-COVID, immigrant entrepreneurs, who have been crucial to America’s economic success for centuries, could play a stronger role in U.S. economic revitalization, but navigating local business regulations and difficulty in accessing formal business loans and are holding them back. BPC’s new report, Immigrant Entrepreneurship: Economic Potential and Obstacles to Success, examines these hurdles and also finds that a major obstacle is a lack of an immigrant visa allowing these entrepreneurs to move to or remain in the U.S.  

The report clarifies that Congress could pass legislation creating an entrepreneurial visa that allows foreign nationals to immigrate or change to this new category if they already reside in the U.S. on a temporary visa. A May 2021 poll conducted by BPC and Morning Consult found bipartisan support for legal immigration reforms, specifically, improving workers visas and developing visas for entrepreneurs. Efforts to support immigrant entrepreneurs could bring a renewed focus to long-needed reforms of the U.S. legal immigration system, which has not seen a legislative update since 1990.    

Through a combination of research and expert interviews, the report identifies key recommendations addressing these hurdles:  

  • Congress could provide the Census Bureau and the Department of Homeland Security the resources to gather data on immigrant entrepreneurs to better inform policies focusing on this population.  
  • Municipalities might create “one-stop shops” where they gather all relevant resources and services for immigrant entrepreneurs to ensure they can address all their needs in fewer visits. 
  • Municipalities could assess the effectiveness of their offerings, including providing services in key languages, conducting outreach to immigrant groups to assess their needs, and tailoring their services in response.  

These recommended changes, though they do not address every challenge, serve as an important step to ensuring a modern and dynamic U.S. immigration system that maximizes the benefits that noncitizens bring to our communities and economy.  

Read the report.  

Watch BPC’s event at 2 p.m. ET for an expert discussion on the report.  

For questions, please contact Communications Associate Hanadi Jordan.