The way the United States handles work visas makes it more difficult for immigrants to become entrepreneurs according to a study at the University of Maryland. The study found that strict immigration policies reduce career opportunities by restricting immigrants to jobs with established firms.
This lack of career flexibility makes it more difficult for immigrants to launch businesses in the United States.
What the research shows
The National Science Foundation’s Scientists and Engineers Statistical Data System show that immigrants with restrictions on their employment, such as temporary work visas, have fewer early employment choices and are less likely to start businesses when they graduate than immigrants who are permanent residents or citizens of the United States.
The reason for this is that U.S. law requires immigrants to get an optional practical training permit or obtain sponsorship from their employer when they graduate. This forces many immigrants to remain in fields that are closely related to their education and makes it more difficult for them to work for small firms or start their own businesses.
Impact on entrepreneurship
Because many immigrants are unable to branch out to other fields early in their careers, they have difficulty gaining the broad skills they need for entrepreneurship.
Many immigrants in the U.S. on work visas work as experts in specialized fields. Established firms can not always take advantage of their innovative ideas in the same way as a start-up. Immigration reform that removes restrictions on employment has the potential to benefit both immigrants and the U.S. economy.