Foreign-born, U.S.-educated start-up founders are more likely to have advanced degrees than their American counterparts and are more likely to have studied a STEM field, the NBER study shows. In addition, they are more likely to start technology-driven companies rather than ones focused on consumer services or business and finance.
The researchers also looked at the footprint of the economic spillover of enrolling international students. There is a “geographically localized economic benefit stemming from the presence of universities that can import top talent from abroad,” they found, with 40 percent of immigrant founders starting their companies in the same state where they attended college. While this “stickiness” is especially true in high-tech hubs like Boston and the Bay Area, it’s common across the country, according to the research.
The findings have policy implications. Government policies that limit the flow of international students or restrict their ability to stay in the U.S., the authors say, could cut off “an important source of innovative and entrepreneurial talent and ideas that contributed to the U.S. economy.”
Meanwhile, another study
looks at the potential fall-out for international education from a rule change that would shift away from a H-1B lottery to a system that would award skilled-worker visas based on salary.
The new process, approved in the final days of the Trump administration, could disadvantage recent international graduates who typically earn less than more-experienced workers, according to the National Foundation for American Policy. The think tank examined recent filings for H-1B petitions by international students obtained from an immigration law firm. Its analysis showed that just 39 percent of the applicants would have been approved if the new regulation had been in effect. Put another way, international students were 54 percent more likely to get an H-1B petition under the lottery than a salary-based system.
That’s because nine in 10 recent graduates in the four years of cases examined fell into the two lowest (of four) salary levels. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s own analysis suggest that no applications at Level 1, the lowest salary level, would be approved under the new rule and only about half of petitions would be OK’d for workers at Level 2.
Making it harder for new graduates to stay and work in the U.S. could discourage them from coming to study here in the first place, NFAP argues.
The Biden administration has delayed the implementation date as it reviews the rule. A coalition of business and education groups have sued to block it.
This Brookings paper
proposes new ways to support international entrepreneurs — and international students who are would-be entrepreneurs — including clarifying regulations for practical training programs to explicitly permit entrepreneurial activity.