During the time many companies in America froze hiring or cut jobs, immigrant-founded Instacart expanded. Instacart, which provides grocery shopping services, also became a lifeline for many American consumers during the Covid-19 crisis.
On March 23, 2020, Instacart founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta announced, “Today, we have more shoppers on the Instacart platform than ever before. Given the continued customer demand we expect over the coming months, we’ll be bringing on an additional 300,000 full-service shoppers to support cities nationwide.”
A month later, Instacart said it would hire another 250,000 workers: “As more people look for immediate, flexible earnings opportunities during this time, we hope that Instacart can be an additional source of income for those looking to earn while also delivering for the communities in which they live.” (See here for more about immigrant contributions during the coronavirus pandemic.)
Apoorva Mehta was born in India and moved with his family to Libya for a time before settling in Canada. Mehta received a B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Waterloo. In the United States, he worked at Blackberry and Qualcomm as a design engineer, and then gained valuable experience at Amazon as a supply chain manager.
There is no green card (permanent residence) for foreign nationals who start a successful company, nor is there a temporary visa for startups in the U.S. immigration system. That means foreign-born entrepreneurs such as Mehta must obtain lawful permanent residence via another route, such as being admitted as a refugee, or as a family or employment-based immigrant. That limits the number of foreign nationals with talent and good ideas who can start a business in the United States. Mehta is a lawful permanent resident, according to Instacart.