Two years ago, Chinese native Xiao Wang founded Boundless Immigration, a Seattle-based business that has helped over 30,000 immigrants apply for green cards and go through the naturalization process efficiently and economically. He was inspired by his own parents’ story: When they were graduate students in electrical engineering and hoping to gain permanent residency for the family, they paid the equivalent of five months rent to hire an immigration lawyer.
When Wang founded his company, he wanted to do it in a place known for welcoming immigrants like his family. Seattle was perfect, ranking number 11 in New American Economy’s Cities Index, which rates the American cities most welcoming to immigrants. The city particularly stands out in the category of Inclusivity—designing hiring practices to attract bilingual candidates, translating materials in multiple languages, offering social services for new arrivals and allowing undocumented immigrants to attend community college.
“The city genuinely makes an effort to create a diverse and inclusive environment,” says Wang, 32. “It hosts citizenship clinics and workshops and coordinates non-profit organizations, lawyers and banks to help immigrants.”
Wang grew up in the Seattle suburb of Bothell but left the area to attend Stanford and Harvard universities and work in New York City at the Department of Education, Providence Equity, and the consulting firm McKinsey. Yet when he thought about the city where he wanted to put down roots, he chose to return to Seattle in 2014. “I was attracted by the diversity,” he says.
For Wang, the best example of this community spirit is the World Dance Party, a series of dance lessons and events to teach Seattleites about dance traditions from salsa, to West African to Vietnamese. “This community is not only welcoming, but celebrates all these differences across cultures,” Wang says.
Immigrants are also an important part of the Seattle economy. Making up nearly 17 percent of the overall population, nearly 614,000 foreign-born residents paid more than $6.5 billion in state, local and federal taxes in 2014. Wang is among 39,000 immigrants who have started businesses in the metro area, according to research by New American Economy.
There’s a real effort to integrate immigrants into the Seattle community. No group is left out.”
Wang is especially proud how the city embraces its most vulnerable immigrants, such as new arrivals or refugees applying for asylum. “There’s a real effort to integrate immigrants into the Seattle community. No group is left out,” says Wang, who credits the extensive network of organizations that provide English and citizenship classes, among other services. “It’s incredible how much people care. It’s what I love about this city,” he says. “I’m proud to call Seattle home for myself, my family and for Boundless.”