The U.S. is the best country in the world for entrepreneurs. Yet it’s also a country that goes out of its way to prevent many of the most promising would-be entrepreneurs from realizing their potential.
Every year, the U.S. grants H-1B visas to 85,000 highly skilled foreign workers, nearly 70% of whom come to this country to work in the tech industry. In my experience, these are some of the most entrepreneurial people in Silicon Valley. Why? H-1B visas are granted only to those with specialized skills, often obtained through advanced technical training at top universities; virtually all H-1B holders have at least a bachelor’s degree, and the majority have gone beyond that. It takes extraordinary courage—and ambition—to leave one’s own country in search of better opportunities. Not only that—maneuvering through the U.S. immigration system is hellish, and it takes a certain entrepreneurial grit just to make it out the other side.
And yet under the current system, H-1B holders effectively cannot start companies—their immigration status depends on their employment by a sponsoring corporation. To retain its innovation lead, the U.S. must reform the immigration system to allow H-1B workers to start their own companies.