Mike Krieger is one of the cofounders of Instagram, the popular photo-sharing app that Facebook bought for $US1 billion in 2012.
But because of a flaw in US immigration law, Krieger might have left Instagram before it even developed its first product in 2010.
Krieger is a Brazilian citizen. According to Bloomberg, Krieger seriously considered telling Systrom to find his replacement in 2010 because he couldn’t get the H1-B visa, the document needed for foreigners to work in the US, transferred from his previous employer, Meebo.
“It was approaching the point of hard conversations,” Krieger told Bloomberg. “I had moments where I was like, ‘Maybe I should just tell Kevin to forget about it and find somebody who is easier to hire.'”
It ended up taking more than three months. By comparison, building the first version of the app that became Instagram only took a few weeks.
Krieger’s case is a common problem among immigrants looking to work legally in the US. Because demand for H-1B visas far outstrip the number of visas offered each year, only a portion of qualified immigrant workers get cleared to work legally. It usually involves a lottery where only a select nuber of employees get to win the visa by luck and timing.
This year, for example, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services stopped receiving applications for the visa after just 7 days due to the explosive amount of requests it received. Two years ago, it shut down applications after just 5 days.
This has been a contentious issue among lawmakers. Some people believe immigrants are taking away jobs from US citizens, while the other side argues there simply aren’t enough qualified Americans, especially in the high-tech fields of engineering and computer programming, to do the work immigrants are doing.
But for Krieger, it’s an area that needs huge reform because he believes immigrants are helping the US. “The U.S. economy really benefits from letting the right people in. Some of them will go on to become job creators; some of them will just go on to do really well at their jobs,” he said in the report.