Foreign college graduates in California who want to start their own business might be able to obtain an H-1B visa with the help of a university. Usually, the H-1B visa is awarded through a lottery system. Only 85,000 visas are awarded to people who must have bachelor’s degrees and skills in math or science. They must also be sponsored by an employer. The odds of winning the lottery are not high. There may be nearly three times as many applicants as there are visas available.
However, some H-1B visas are exempt from that cap. If a person provides services to a university or is employed by a university, then this process can be bypassed. Some schools are now using a loophole to enable former students to remain in the country. They retain these graduates as entrepreneurs-in-residence at the university where they may fulfill roles such as acting as mentors.
Critics say that colleges are exploiting a loophole in immigration law that was intended to assist in the hiring of researchers. However, supporters say that without the loophole, they would lose many talented students each year who wish to start their own businesses.
Immigration laws are complex, and there may be avenues available such as this one that are not immediately apparent. A person who has been studying in the United States and who wishes to remain in the country, particularly those in specialty occupations, might want to speak to an attorney about the options that are available. There have also been a number of proposals related to immigration reform, but these may not be approved, and immigration law can change rapidly. An attorney might be able to advise the best course of action for people who may qualify to remain in the country under some of the proposed changes.