These 92 immigrants hail from 35 countries but made it rich in America.
When Zoom founder and CEO Eric Yuan set his sights on the U.S. as a recent college graduate in the 1990s, he was denied a visa eight times in 18 months. Determined to join idols like Bill Gates making it big in tech, the son of mining engineers in China’s eastern Shandong Province refused to take no for an answer.
“I told myself, okay, great. I’ll do all I can until you tell me that I can never come here anymore,” Yuan told Forbes in 2019. “Otherwise, I’m not going to stop.”
Yuan’s persistence paid off. He finally got a visa and headed to California in the summer of 1997 to join WebEx as an early employee. Two decades later, the rival video communications company he ended up founding and running has fundamentally changed the way we connect with each other in the midst of a global pandemic.
Yuan (who was worth an estimated $5.2 billion as of March 11– the date Forbes used to measure net worths for the latest billionaires list), is just one of 92 foreign-born American citizens on Forbes’ annual World’s Billionaires list for 2022 who currently live in the United States. You heard that right – 13% of the list’s 735 American citizens are immigrants.
With a combined net worth of $711 billion, these foreign-born U.S. citizens account for 15% of all American billionaire wealth. And they’ve built their fortunes on their own– 92% are self-made, compared to 71% for the 628 American billionaires who were born in the U.S.
These immigrants hail from 35 different countries and every continent but Antarctica. The world’s richest person, Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX ($219 billion), is one of three from South Africa. Another five hail from elsewhere in Africa, including Tope Awotona ($1.4 billion), the founder and CEO of scheduling software company Calendly. As a 12-year-old in Lagos, Nigeria, Awotona witnessed his father get shot and killed in a carjacking. Three years later he and his family moved to Atlanta, Georgia.