Silicon Valley wants people with experience. US immigration services want people with grad degrees.
Silicon Valley's highest echelon is filled with examples of successful people who have eschewed degrees in favor of entrepreneurship. It's also filled with immigrants.
No one illustrates this better than Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who was born in South Africa. Musk did attain two bachelor's degrees in the 1990s, one in economics and one in physics, but much of his relevant education came from his own experience. Musk taught himself both computer programming and rocketry. He dropped out of a Stanford PhD to found his first company.
Musk was able to continue working in the United States — where he would eventually become a citizen and household name, founding several billion dollar tech companies — thanks to a high-skill immigration visa called an H-1B. These days, Musk would have had a much harder time.
According to new data from US Citizenship and Immigration Services, some 52 percent of those who applied for next year's 85,000 H-1B slots have a US master's degree, more than double the rate it was in 2015. That's been ticking up as immigrants and their US employers try to anticipate the Trump administration's increasingly strict immigration policies that prioritize immigrants with graduate degrees.