Wouldn't that be compensation, technically? Also, I'd expect a company to be required to pay someone at least a minimum wage, but I could be mistaken.
> I am doing this because i live in a war torn country, some issues happened and i've lost all my savings
Dude, forget the US for now. Your first priority is to get a safe place to live in and a stable job so you can build your financial life back. Try other countries, such as the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland. These have way better immigration policies, specially for people in tech.
Then, when you are ready, try California again. Having no money will be an obstacle otherwise. How are you going to get translated, notarized documentation otherwise? Not to mention any kind of fees, plus transportation.
> i can't get an H1B visa because i don't have a university degree
Then don't, try another route. Such as via a big US multinational company. Or get the degree, if you follow the suggestion to go to an "easier" country first. You are young, you have time.