Before I answer this question, I want to run the following real world examples by you:
- Years before being acquired in a Billion dollar deal, his mom, a teacher at a Manhattan private school, thought her son was getting distracted at school but really liked computers and had a lot of great ideas. So, she decided to home school him. With homeschooling she figured, in one-and-a-half hours a day, he could get all he could get from school and then spend more time working on his passion. The kid told someone that he really wanted to go to MIT and chimed, “33% of non-religious homeschooled applicants get into MIT.”
- Before he founded the World’s most valuable company, he lost interest and then simply gave up on his education at Portland’s Reed College after six months. He claims in a now famous speech that he spent the following eighteen months taking classes in creative arts and shacking up with several friends and sleeping on the floor in a dormitory room.
- Before he became the world’s third-richest man, he famously dropped out of two different universities. In one of them, he first encountered computer programming. After just one semester, he dropped out of college and moved to Northern California to pursue his passion for computer technology.
- Years before becoming Spain’s richest man, his father moved the family to the Iberian textile capital, La Coruna, where he gave up school to begin working as a delivery boy for a local shirt maker at age 14. At the age of 27, he founded his own company, producing quality yet affordable garments.
- Before he became the World’s second richest man, while still in high school he was excused from math class so he could write computer programs; writing his first computer program while still in 8th grade. He dropped out of Harvard in his sophomore year to start a computer software business from his garage.
- As a child, he struggled with dyslexia. After struggling at numerous schools, he dropped out at the age of 16 to start his own youth culture magazine, called “Student.” After moving to London in the mid-1960s, he developed his idea for a mail-order record company to help fund his magazine efforts. Using a public phone box as his first office, he managed to sell records at significantly reduced prices.
None of the above examples are of individuals who would qualify for an H-1B Visa under the Government’s “Entrepreneur” H-1B Visa program. The listed examples are short bios of David Karp (Tumblr), Steve Jobs (Apple), Larry Ellison (Oracle), Amancio Ortega (Inditex), Bill Gates (Microsoft), and Sir Richard Branson (Virgin) respectively.
None had a formal bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. Unfortunately, none of them would qualify as an ‘entrepreneur’ in a specialty occupation as currently defined in the H-1B regulations. The regulations require the minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a related field to qualify for the benefit. Although, the current Administration’s efforts to reward and promote entrepreneurship are laudable, it appears lacking when applied to situations as described above. What is needed instead is a system designed to think outside the box. Perhaps, it is not too late and legislators debating the current immigration reform can introduce an ancillary to the H-1B Visa category designed to reward entrepreneurs meeting the following criteria:
- Incorporated a Company within the last 12-24 months
- Have annual sales revenue of $500,000.00 or more OR received VC funding of at least $1 Million
- Employ 5-10 US workers
- Have a viable Business Plan vetted by a Panel constituted for this purpose
I also believe this H-1B Visa Program should be administered by the Commerce Department to give budding entrepreneurs a fair chance as opposed to being compelled to satisfy the current ‘Preponderance (read nothing you say will convince us) standard’ of evidence required in these proceedings.