Home » US Immigration - Visas » Change of Status (COS) – F1, H1B, L1, H4, L2, F2 – FAQs – All you need to Know !

Change of Status (COS) – F1, H1B, L1, H4, L2, F2 – FAQs – All you need to Know !

What is Change of Status (COS) ?

When a non-immigrant or an international student/ worker enters US, that alien is given a visa category. This is mentioned in the I-94 that is issued at PoE (Port of Entry). Immigration laws allow the alien/ international student/ worker to move from one visa category to another, with few exceptions, like from H4 visa to H1B or F1 visa to H1 or L1 to H1B, without needing to go out of the country and getting the visa stamped for the new category. This process is called Change of Status and commonly referred as COS in immigration context.

What is the process for Change of Status (COS)?

When applying for COS, following steps happen:
1. The applicant submits COS form (I-539).
2. Additional documents need to be submitted to show that the alien has been maintaining valid status in US, and will be able to maintain status in the new visa category. To demonstrate this, one needs to submit:

  • Copy of current I-94, that states you are in valid status and not I-94 not expired
  • Depending on the status you are in, you need to submit additional documents.
    • If working on H1B or L1, copy of most recent payslips/ pay stubs and W2s
    • If on H4 or L2 as dependent, then copy of spouse’s payslips and W2s (when current visa category is H-4 or L-2)
    • If on F1 visa, copy of I20, if working on F1 OPT, relevant pay stubs as well.
    • If working employment documents like employment letters, etc.
    • Also, if on H4 or L2, then spouse’s employment documents and approval notice of H1B/L1

The above documents are just few examples, if you have any other documents that can prove your status, submit them accordingly.

How long does Change of Status (COS) take to process?

If just the COS is filed, then it takes few months to one year process, there is no specific timeline define. You can check USCIS website to see current processing times.  If the COS is filed along with H1B with I-129 form, then it can also take anywhere from few weeks to few months to process. The actual processing times are available at USCIS website. If you have premium processing option available like for moving to H1B, then you can get it done in 15 days, but you need to check USCIS website, if that is available at that point. For instance, in September 2018, USCIS suspended premium processing until Feb 2019

How long can I stay in US with COS in pending state ? What if my I-94 expires ?

In general, you can stay in US, as long as a final decision on your Change of Status (COS) application is made. In general, if your I-94 expires, your status in US ends and you are considered out of status. But, in the case of COS pending application with I-94 expired, you do not accrue ‘unlawful presence’. You will be in period of authorised stay. If your COS is approved, your I-94 tie back to the expired date and you will be considered as maintaining proper status. If let’s say you get denial on your COS application and your I-94 has expired for the previous status, then you will need to leave US immediately after you get the decision notice. For more info, read Lawful status vs Period of Authorised Stay – How it works 

Can I expedite 221g or RFE processing?

If standard COS is filed, then it cannot be expedited. If it is filed along w/ I-129 form, then it can be upgraded to premium processing. In this case, it will be adjudicated within 15 calendar days. If your COS petition is filed under premium, then once your RFE response is given, the 15 days calendar days clock kicks in and will be expedited.

What happens once COS is approved?

If USCIS approves the COS, then they would issue approved 797 along with an attached I-94. The attached I-94 will have the start and end date of the new visa category along with annotation for the new visa category. Check Sample H4 Approval Notice with I-94. The alien will be on the new visa category from the start date mentioned in the approval notice, and is supposed to start maintaining the new status from that date. For example, if COS is applied from L-1 to H-1, then L-1 status needs to be maintained until COS approval date, and H-1 status needs to be maintained thereafter.

What happens once COS is denied?

If USCIS denies the COS, then alien would continue to remain on your current visa category and need to maintain the same.

Is no stamping required with COS?

When COS is approved, the alien’s visa category changes immediately. No need to go for stamping. However, when the alien leaves the US next and wants to re-enter on new visa status into US, then they will have to go for the visa stamping of that visa category.

Can I travel out of US when COS is pending with USCIS ? Implications ?

You may travel out of US while COS is pending, but the COS will be considered abandoned as you left US. Your petition may be approved, but COS part will be denied and you will need to get Stamping at consulate to get into the new status.

What is Change of Status ( COS) in short ?

COS is a request to USCIS to process your application in a way, so that they grant you new visa status, without leaving the country. It is Change of Status of applicant from X to Y without leaving US.

Can Change of Status (COS) be applied when you are out of US ?

No, COS is not relevant when you are out of US. It is applicable only when you are in US and trying to change your status from one to other.

Will COS Abandonment with Travel out of US impact my Visa Stamping ?

Not necessarily. Your visa stamping at consulate depends on the visa type, its application related supporting documents and not directly related to your travel and COS abandonment.

Any other questions ?


Other Articles


  1. I’m on F1 status till Jun 2012 and i got the H1B approval in June 2012 with a COS which will be effective from Oct1st 2012. Due to unexpected reasons, I went to India and I’m coming back to US on H4 visa on Sep12. Do i need to do a change of status in order to start working from Oct1st or can i start my work from Oct1st as the new I94 will be effective from Oct1st. One of the attorney said, I can start working from Oct1st. Can you please comment on the same.

    • Venu,
      IMO, you can start working from Oct 1. This is a special case when COS is approved for a future date. So it becomes effective from Oct 1 irrespective of whether you left US in b/w or not, as long as you return to US prior to Oct 1.

      If you want, you can take another opinion as well.

  2. Hello Saurabh ,

    I am working on L2 EAD and my H1B petition is approved for the same employer. I have I-797C copy which will be valid from Oct 1st2012.

    Do I need to contact my employer/attorney to initiate COS?

    Thanks in advance!!!!

    • Harry,
      Ask your employer/attorney if COS is already approved w/ H-1 petition. If the approved petition has an I-94 attached to the bottom of it, then it has been approved w/ COS and you have to start working on H-1 from Oct 1.

      • Thank you so much Saurabh.
        I have only single page copy of I-797 C but got the I-94 details under I-129 petition from the employer as below

        The California Service Center has approved the following
        I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker
        that had been filed under the Premium Processing Program:

        Receipt Number: WACxxxxx
        Petitioner: xyz
        Beneficiary: abc
        DOB: mm/dd/yy
        Classification: H1B
        Starting Validity Date: 10/01/12
        Ending Validity Date: end date
        Consulate notified (if applicable):
        I-94 # (if applicable): 1234567

        Is this OK? or still Do I need to contact my employer ?
        Thanks once again.

        • Harry,
          This shows that COS was requested but doesn’t prove that it has been approved. Ask your employer for 797A or 797B which is the approval notice and will have information on COS.

  3. Hi Saurabh,

    I just got a letter from my lawyer that my H1B w/COS has been approved. I have several questions:

    1. I’m not planning to leave outside US anytime soon (right now im currently living inside the US and working for my company) and probably will leave outside US next year. Should i get the stamp as soon as possible or i can wait until next year?

    2. Is there any chance that they will reject my visa application even though USCIS already approved my working permit?

    3. what should i do next after i got my H1B package from my lawyer ?

    Please advice.

    • What is your current status?

      Visa stamping come in picture once you leave US and no problem until you have valid visa or I94.

      Can you tell about when did you apply and when you got approval – was that general or masters ?


      • Vax,

        Before change of status, i was on F-1 visa/OPT. My Opt ended July 7, 2012, so right now i believe i am under cap-gap rule. please correct me if i’m wrong.

        I applied for H1B with COS this June and got approved last week. It is for general.

        I am just curious, is there any possibility if i travel outside the US and they will reject my H1B visa even though i already have a working permit?

        • Thanks for the information – I would suggest not to travel before 1st october – it might reverse your COS status. if you travel after 1st oct – you need to go for stamping.

          No one knows what will happen in stamping. get in touch with attorney. They might know some trick.

    • Eli,
      1. You can delay until next year
      2. It is always a possibility
      3. Let your school know about the approval, inform your employer’s payroll department about the approval (so that they can start deducting social security taxes from Oct).

  4. Hi Saurabh,

    Need your advice on this. My friend has applied for H1B 2o12 and his petition is still under Initial Review. But the OPT ends on October 1st 2012, if he doesn’t get the H1B approval before, should he apply for CAP-GAP Extension I-20??

  5. Hi Saurabh,

    Its really nice to see your responses to people’s query.

    I have few queries on H4 to H1B conversion. I am currently on H4 in USA. I have got my H1B filed through a Consultancy and awaiting approval.

    1. As per this Fiscal Year, what is the trend like? Are H4 to H1b getting approved?
    2. If I get my H1B approved and If I haven’t found a project here in US, for how long will H1B be valid ?
    3. Same scenario as previous query (2.): If I want to visit India next year and I am yet to get on to a project, will it be an issue when I go for stamping?
    4. Once I start working here in US after Oct 1st 2012, If I visit India next year April or May, will there be issues when I go for Stamping? Are there any chances of getting rejected?
    5. Is H4 to H1B a change of status? If yes, Can I get my stamping done in Canada?
    6. If H1B is approved for this year while I’m in USA, what are the documents they expect during Visa Stamping in India?

    I would appreciate your response to my query. I know its a huge list, but your reply will bring in some solace to me.

    Thank you,

    • GC,
      1. It varies from case to case.
      2. You need to start getting paid once your H-1 starts. H-1 would remain valid for the duration it was approved for, but you will become out-of-status if you don’t get paid
      3. Yes, especially if you are not getting paid.
      4. There is always a chance of running into issues during stamping. However, if you are getting paid and working in a H-1 eligible arrangement, then chances of running into issues is less (but still not zero)
      5. Yes, it is COS. For first time stamping one is recommended to go to home country especially if the person has not done Masters in US
      6. Same set of documents required for H-1 petition processing. If you have spent time inside US on H-1, then payslips and W2 (if issued) will also be required.

  6. Hi,
    I have H1 with COS (L1b) I dont have H1 stamped yet, my wife has h4 and now have to visit India, I wont be able to go with her. my question is-> Is there any problem if she doesnt have my passport with H1 stammped? I can give all pay stubs, letters, certificates etc. Can she go for H4 stamping with out my H1 stamping ?


  7. My H1 is approved with COS. Currently working on L1. If suppose if I start my new employment on H1 from 15th Oct instead of 1st Oct will there be any issue. I will continue with my L1 employer till 15th Oct. I heard that there will be 60 days time to join new employer. P,s suggest.

    • Rao,
      That could be tricky. You are supposed to work on H-1 from COS approval date i.e. Oct 1. If you work on L-1 for 15 more days it can cause an issue in future. The other possibility is that USCIS doesn’t ask anything about it. I would suggest talking to your H-1 attorney about the continuance of working on L-1 post Oct 1.

  8. Hi Saurabh,

    My husband is currently on L1b visa and I am on L2. Another company is applying for an H1b for him, it is cap-exempt. Can we file a change of status to H1 & H4 together? If we do so in premium processing, will they be approved at the same time? Do I need a separate i-539?
    What happens if my husband’s visa is applied without change of status(such that he has to get it stamped once approved) and mine is done via COS? Can both of them be done by premium processing together and what are the fees in this case? Would we have to pay the fees for premium processing twice? Is there a chance of his visa getting approved before mine

    • SP,
      Yes, H-1 and H-4 need to be filed together. Both will require their own I-539. If the husband’s H-1 is applied w/o COS, then no COS should be filed for you. Your COS should be filed only if husband’s COS is filed.

      PP can be filed for both. I am not sure if there will be 2 set of PP fees required or not.

      Did I cover everything?

  9. Hi there,

    This is my story-
    Currently I am on CPT/I20 working for Consultancy. My I20 expires in Aug end. My employer filed for my H1 but I got RFE. I will know the reason for RFE sometime next week.
    Do you think is it because of CPT and I20 being valid till Aug end?

  10. After F2 visa change status to F1 visa, without go out stamped or obtain F1 visa only have the approved note and I-20, how long can pursue the study without leaving USA? Is it a certain time or lenght have to get obtain F1?

    • Elly,
      If you file COS within US from F-2 to F-1, you can continue to stay and study as per your I-20 and attached I-94. If you don’t have the need to travel outside US, then no visa stamping is required. You can complete the entire course even w/o getting the visa stamped and just having valid I-94 and I-20.

  11. Hi Saurabh,
    My OPT expires on 4th dec2012, i know H1 B effective date starts from 09/01/2012. Can the effective date can be changed for individual cases ? Because i want to use my whole OPT period .


    • Hi tweet,

      How are you,

      Are you in US now, looking for any OPT opportunity, we give free training with placements.


    • Tweet,
      H-1 start date is usually Oct 1 but a future start date can be requested when filing the petition. I assume your petition is already in process which means a start date has been mentioned in the filing document, and this cannot be changed now.

  12. Hi Saurabh,

    My H1B which was applied in April,2012 got denied saying that my undergard is in Civil and H1B petition is filed for Software job even though i have done many courses as part of curriculum during engineering and had worked for 5 years in software industry back in India.
    My employer applied for MTR recently with all evidences of my engineering semester wise courses, credits and my score for each of the course and detailed job duties that i have done in last 5 years at work.

    My questions are:
    How long does MTR generally takes?
    What are the chances of my application getting approved?
    What is In-Gerenal percentage of MTRs getting approved?
    Can we have one more thread or in the same thread discuss how everyone is getting progressed with denied H1s?

    • Hey Mani,

      Are you sure your H1 was denied cause of ur non-comp degree. did u ur rejection letter says this. A person wid a mechanical engg got H1 approval this year. If this is the case then its just whims and fancy of USCIS to approve or deny petition. I am also a non-comps student wid 6+ yr exp in IT and applied for H1 this year.

      • Hi H1B2012Applicant,
        Yes i am verry much sure as i read the whole denial document. Even i have got few friends from non-comp science background and got their approvals. It is all luck whether you make it or not.
        But my point is i have done many computer related courses at college level and have been working from last 5 years.
        Waiting from MTR response now. 🙁

        In what stage is your petition now?

        Can somebody shed some light on my questions posted before in my previous post?

        • Hey Mani,

          Thanks Man for ur response! Denial is too harsh…i did some search for non-comps student and found that u hv to provide relevant doc and good exp to prove dat u r eligible for job applied…otherwise our 10+2+4 degree makes us eligible for H1…u shud hv got RFE to explain ur case better…don’t worry u will get some resolution…

          How good is company thru which u filed ur visa and did u hv exp (resume, experience letter, training certificate etc)related to job for which visa was applied…sometimes dey deny visa when roles nd responsibilities are not in sync

          My case is in processing but i m also non-comps grad so try to find out abt non-comps ppl…


    • Mani,
      1. It can take few months to up to a year for MTR to be resolved
      2. Varies from case to case
      3. Don’t know

      Was the denial done after issuing RFE and giving a chance to address the concern? If no RFE was issued, then your employer has good grounds of making their case heard. You should show detailed documentation on how you qualify for the offered position based on your education and experience.

      • Hi Saurabh,

        My case was filed through regular process in the beginning. Then upgraded to premium. so is there a chance that MTR will be done in fast phase?

        RFE was given before the denial. We are thinking that my employer hasnt taken enough care to respond to RFE. I was involved and thoroughly checked documentation while filing MTR.

        • Mani,
          MTR will not be processed w/ PP as it was just for the initial petition. Also, I don’t think there is any PP service for MTR. Do you know what the employer response was to the RFE? If it is same as the one you submit for MTR, then the MTR decision may not be favorable.

          • The response to RFE is different compared to MTR. I am sure they haven’t taken much care when we got RFE. While doing MTR, we have provided what ever information we could, reviewed the documents they have prepared and asked my cousin also to review the material once. God knows how it turns out again :(.

          • Hi

            I sailed in the same boat in year 2010 when my petition was denied by USCIS, my engineering degree was from a very reputed college was in NOn IT and my MBA again from a Top B school was disregarded as a specialist education and was compared to BA. I was employed at that time with No2 IT company in India.

            Same year my freinds petition got approved for H1, Green card who graduated with simmilar educational background and work ex.
            At that time i had IT work ex of 6 years and total work ex of 10 years.

            Not sure what lies this year for me and people who are in simmilar situation

          • Hi Man,

            Thank you for your input. Somehow i dont see REPLY button for your message. So to continue same loop, i have replied to my own message.

            Can you also please shed some light how you have handled the case?

          • Hi Mani
            I could not do much at that time but i have filed a fresh petition this year as well but from a small IT company. As MTR can let a petioner reply with fresh evidences i suggest that you give a list of training documents in IT even it is fron NNIT or aptech. Secondly you must kno w that every 3 years of relevant work ex is equivalent to 1 year of education qualification, hence 12 years of work ex in IT will qualify you straight into H1-B . Please give strong evidences and proof about your work ex making it simple and crisp.

            I hope this help..aah one more thing you can add is to have sylabus of IT related subjects in your bachelors or Masters degree

  13. Dear Sir/ Madam,
    Currently I’m working with L1 visa which is valid till March 2014. The same employer filed for Change of status to H1B. The application is under progress since May 2012 and still it is in the status of Initial review. Actually I have planned for a vacation to India from 3rd Aug’12 to 27th Aug’12 with my L1 visa. Is it going to impact the processing of my H1B? If so Could you please let me know the impact?
    Thank you.

    • Hello,
      I too wanted to know about the impact of L2 to H4 since mine was filled on 25th may 2012 for 2013 and would know if going to india in that span of time would do any change to the new H4 as i have valid L2 till end of 2013 . And i want to know whether after returning from India i can apply for COS and how long does it take to get the result.

    • Madhu,
      If you leave US while COS (from L-1 to H-1 or L-2 to H-4) is pending, then the same will be abandoned. You can return on L-1/2 and your H-1/4 may get approved, but your status will remain L-1/2. To move to H-1/4, you will have to get that visa stamped from your home country or file for separate COS from L-1/2 to H-1/4.

  14. Hi,

    My Employer has filled my H1B on 31st May 2012 and my case is in Initial review.
    Currently I am I-94 which is valid till Jan 2015 but I dont have any visa now. The current I-94 I got when travelled to US in Jan 2012 based upon my L1 visa which expired in March 2012.

    What will happen if H1 gets approved ?
    What will happen if my H1 gets denied ?

    Do I need to travel back to India immediately if my H1 gets approved and come back US again after 1 October after stamping ?

    • Amit,
      Two things can happen w/ H-1 approval. If approved w/ COS (change of status), you have to start working on H-1 from COS approval date. If approved w/o COS, you can continue working on L-1. If H-1 is denied, then also you can continue working on L-1.

  15. Hi Saurabh,

    My wife is on H4 and the day she was travelling to India, attorney called us and told he is filing her H1B with COS. When we told him about her travel, he said he will apply only for H1B petition, however she will have to go for stamping when she is back in U.S.A. Her H1b petition is filed, yet to approve and she is back in U.S.A now. My question is can we apply for her COS now? Please suggest.

    Thanks in advance

      • Thanks so much for your response Saurabh. My attorney company says that it is not possible to apply for COS as it was filed as consular petition. Is this correct.

        • Ravi,
          I think they can either file amendment to have it approved w/ COS, or just file the COS form after it has been approved.

    • Hi Sourabh ,
      I also do have the same concern.
      Myself is on H4 and last week traveled to India, attorney filed my H1B with COS on 8 June 2012. When I told him about my travel, he said that I can travel back to US on current H4 there is not need to worry.
      I do have some concerns :
      1)Is it legal to enter in US on my current H4 when H1 is applied(Status is Initial review)
      2) Do i need to apply for COS after entering in US before start of job.
      3)After COS is approved do I need to come back to india for stamping of H1 before start of job?

      I know too many question but please suggest.


      • Jyoti,
        1. Yes
        2. Yes. Your COS is abandoned if you leave US while H-1 is still under process. After returning to US on H-4 and H-1 getting approved, file for COS
        3. If COS gets approved, then you can start working on H-1 from COS approval date. No stamping is required as long as you continue to stay within US.

  16. Looks like i missed my H1 processing This year.Now i have visa till Aug 2nd.I have I94 till 2014.My company is ready to file the L1 b extension ,but are insisting me to stay in i94 as there are more L1 rejection now.

    Which one is better Should remain in I94 or ask my company to extend by L1B Visa
    If i stay in i94 will it impact by H1B Processing or GC processing in future
    If i go for l1b extension if it gets rejected,Can i stay in the 194 or i how many days i have to return bac

    • AGVISA,
      I think you have posted this earlier as well, and I just replied to it. You can continue to work on L-1 on the basis of I-94 until I-94 expiration date. If you travel outside of US, then you need to have stamped L-1 visa in order to return to US. It will not impact GC processing.

  17. Hello,
    I have a question and would appreciate if you can help me.
    I am currently on OPT status that is going to expire next month.
    My current employer have gone through H1B application + COS and I received I 797 approval.
    I just received a job offer from another employer.
    Do you think if they file the transfer petition I am able to switch jobs right now or I would have to wait until October 1st?
    Thank you!

  18. Hi.. I am currently in India. I got an offer from US company through linkedin. I do not have any visa to enter into US. H1B visa cap for 2013 have reached on June 11 2012 itself. Now my question is, in what way I can get visa to go to US other than H1B visa? My new employer do not have any offices other than US.

    • Sararaha,
      You will have to wait for next fiscal year to get H-1 visa filed. Based on the information you provided, you do not qualify for L-1.

  19. Hi friends,

    Is it true , any chance to apply for H1 through consultants or companies, as cap closed.

    or change status H4 to F1 process how ?

    • H-4 to F-1 is done inside the states by mailing a change of status form to the immigration service office. It can also be at a US embassy. You can find the form and mailing address online at the US immigration website.

      • Thanks JC,

        My friend , she is SAP HR in US now same H4 status , visa process for F1 , need I-20 ?

        They vacation plan to India this november 2012, and their current visas are in extension.

        Can i have your ph no or email to discuss.


  20. Hello,
    I want to change from an H-4 to an F-1. The above questions say, if i am denied I can retain my H-4 status. Can you please lead me to the U.S. Code where this is stated or where the law states this?

    please and I appreciate it

  21. Hi Saurabh,

    I am currently in India and I don’t have any US visas till now.
    A new employer has filed H1B for me this year and it is approved.
    Since this will be my first stamping, Can I take my wife also for H4 stamping along with me ?
    What documents are needed for that? Should I ask the employer to apply for H4 visa ?


    • Hi Raj,

      You can take your spouse along with you for stamping.
      You need to fill in a separate DS160 form for her and take 2 appointments and take 3 extra set of your documents as these will be enough if you two are going together for stamping.

  22. Hi Saurabh,

    1) I have been working for same client on L1B visa for 3+ years. Now Client is going through tough phase and planning to close the site where I work.

    They wanted me to work from other office(in other state).

    Is it possible to work from other location for same client on L1b visa?


    I have to be on h1b?

    2) My h1b visa has been applied this year.

    Does this relocation has any impact on my h1b application?


  23. Hi,Need your assistance. When I enter US I was in H4 and my husband was working in ac company and now my husband is changing his company and from company they have now file for both of us visa @change of employer. We only got the softcopy of receipt.
    Now I ant to change my status from H4 to F1 and also submit my application to USCIS and had attached my recent H4 visa receipt along with the supporting documents.. Need to know whether that can create a problem in getting F1?

  24. Hi,

    I’m currently working for company A on L1B Visa, and same company filed non-premium H1B petition for me on 2012/13 quota. I’m yet to get the receipt number. However meanwhile, Company B gave me offer and willing to transfer H1B once it is approved. So

    1) I know that company B has to wait until Oct-2012 as new H1B is applicable only on that date ( Correct me If I’m wrong ) . But Is it possible to transfer the H1B immediately to company B as and when I came to know that H1B is approved ?

    2) Or Company B has to wait until Oct-2012 to transfer the H1B ?

    3) Or Do I need to wait 15 more days after Oct -2012 until I get first payslip on H1B status before transferring the H1B ?

    So what are the options I have to move to Company B ?

    Thanks a lot for your help.

    • Pravalika,
      Once A’s petition is approved, B can file for cap-exempt petition w/ start date of Oct 1 or later. This can be filed even prior to Oct 1. If this happens after Oct 1, then you will need payslips for that period of H-1.

      • Thanks a lot Saurabh. Sorry though it says before entering this comment that I should not ask questions, but I have to ask here for continuity. The other questions that I have are,

        1) I’m not sure whether company A filed H1B with COS. If they didn’t file with COS then Can company B transfer the H1 and then file COS ? if it is yes, then usually how much time it takes ? because as of now they are waiting 3 months to hire me, but if it is more than that then they can’t wait.

        2) Is it possible for company B to file cap-exempt petition after receiving the receipt number of company A’s petition ? or Company B has to wait until Company A’s petition is approved ?

        • Pravalika,
          1. They can file for cap-exempt petition along w/ COS. Regular processing would take 2-6 months, while PP will be done within 15 calendar days (not including RFE time)
          2. I don’t think they can file cap-exempt petition on the basis of pending receipt number. But you can check w/ your attorney.

  25. Hi Sourabh,
    Thank you for all the help.

    I have a query.

    My L2 is valid until March 2013 and L2 EAD is valid until Sep 22 2012. I have applied for H1B recently in 2013 quota.
    Since I have a gap of “8” days from Oct 1st 2012 (H1B 2013 start date), I have applied for L2 EAD renewal.

    I know L1B or L2 to H1B has COS rules applicable.
    My query : Since I applied for L2 EAD renewal and H1B approval also in progress, will the L2 EAD renewal effect any thing on H1B COS ?
    Sine it’s only I-765 not I-539, I hope I’m safe ?

    Please let me know your comments.

    • Tech,
      You should be fine. BTW, when is your L-2 I-94 expiring? Your status is determined by I-94 and not EAD. In your case EAD governs work authorization while I-94 governs ability to live.

  26. Hello folks! I am currently on a L1 A Visa. I am considering a job change. Given that I am into IT sales, are companies receptive to the idea of sponsoring a COS? Thanks for your help!

  27. Hi,

    My wife is currently on H4 visa and we have received her H1 approval notice recently with a start date of 1st Oct 2012. She is yet to go for her stamping.

    We would like to know whether she can travel to India and come back to USA on H4 visa before 1st Oct 2012 without going for her H1 stamping ?

    If yes, then will she loose her Change of status and needs to reapply for H4 to H1 COS(change of status) once she is back in USA ?

    Please share your thoughts on this.

    Thanks in Advance.

    • Sreenath,
      She can travel to India prior to Oct 1, return on same H-4 visa prior to Oct 1, and still be on H-1 from Oct 1. As her COS was approved for start date of Oct 1, it will still go in effect on that date and will not get abandon by her travel outside US prior to that date.

      I suggest she drops her H-4 I-94 when leaving US, but still keep the one that came along w/ H-1 approval notice. That I-94 will become effective from Oct 1 even after she gets an I-94 when returning to US on H-4.

      Makes sense?

      • Thanks! for the super quick response Saurabh, appreciate it very much.

        We asked the same question to the attorney who dealt our case but got a different answer. Here is what he says:

        “Unfortunately, when you leave the US, you will lose the change of status. When the USCIS realizes that you have left, we will receive a letter stating that you have left and that your I-94 is no longer valid. That doesn’t mean your H1b is denied, it just means that your change of status is no longer valid. If you re-enter on the H4, then you will remain in H4 until we file a change of status back to H1b”

        I am assuming there is some ambiguity in the interpretation of law/rule regarding this situation.

        Can you please help us in gathering additional information about this situation i.e reference/link to the law/rule governing this ?

        Thanks!! a lot in advance.


        • Sreenath,
          That is true when you leave US while H-1 petition is pending w/ COS. However, in this case she will be leaving after COS has been approved for a future date.

          There was an article written by the prominent muthy.com law firm, but the link doesn’t work anymore after their site was redesigned this week.

          I found another article written by another law firm – link. Refer to question 4.

          • Hi,

            I am currently on H4 and my H1b is under process with COS. Can I travel to India and come back on H4 visa before Oct, 2012?
            And what if my h1b got approved with COS while I am in India?

          • Anjali,
            Please read Saurabh’s reply for the same message above. He has clearly said that you can go and come back before Oct 1st. On or after Oct 1st, you will require a new H-1B visa stamped on your passport.

  28. Hi Saurabh,

    I have a L1B till Oct 2013.My wife is in india this year she got a H1 Approval petition (Not stamping) i am planning to bring her in L2 if she goes for stamping will it(L2)go through? Will she get L2? If she gets L2 after coming to US will she be able to COS to H1? Or else H1 will become inactive?


    • Raj,
      She can go for L-2 visa stamping and then file COS in US from L-2 to H-1. It should not be an issue. Her approvals will still be subject to regular L-1 and H-1 requirements.

  29. Hi Sourabh,

    i am filing H1 for my wife through one of the consultancy. Presently she is on H4.And she is at INDIA now and will be back here o July 5th on H4 visa.

    As the cap count is getting filled so fast , the employer is suggesting to file h1 without LCA. And on RFE , LCA can be submitted. For now we have already filed LCA 2 days back and they are sure by the time we receive certified RFE the cap may get over.

    They also informed that, by the time we receive Certified LCA, if the cap is still open , they can file H1 again with LCA and cancel the previously filed H1. Is that possible?


    • Hari,
      LCA is a per-requisite to H-1 filing. I am not sure if they would issue RFE for missing LCA, or understand the cheap gimmick of the employer and deny the petition outright. In the end it is your and employer’s call.

  30. Saurabh,

    Thanks for your great service.

    I have an L1B Visa is going to expire by 03-SEPT-2012, applied for extension but got RFE on 06-JUNE-2012. I got an H1B approved petition starting from 01-OCT-2012 Valid till 30-Sept 2013, meanwhile I have an chance of getting an 5 year L1B Visa from Canada.
    Please let me know, if I have L1B VISA stamped from Canada, then which VISA will be effective? Do you feel any issues can be caused when I have L1B and H1B, where L1B can have more year’s validity than H1B.

    • Sharan,
      If you go for L-1 visa stamping and return on L-1 visa prior to Oct 1, then you will still be on H-1 from Oct 1 based on your previous H-1 approval (my assumption is that H-1 was approved w/ COS). If you return on L-1 visa after Oct 1, then you will be on L-1 visa.

      In the end, you can stay at most 5 years in US on L-1 visa, and at most 6 years of L-1 and H-1 visas together. You will not get another 5 years of L-1 w/o resetting the clock i.e. staying outside of US for more than 1 year.

      • Thanks for the reply, so great of you. If go for an vacation out of US to India after 2012, I need to stamp my H1 Visa in India or can I use my stamped L1 Visa from Canada. I am sure that, I can use L1 Visa after Oct 2013 without stamping for till its expires.

        • Sharan,
          Which visa do you want to return on? If you want to return to US on H-1 visa and work on H-1, then you need to go for H-1 visa stamping. If you want to return on L-1, then you need to have a stamped L-1 visa (if you don’t have any unexpired L-1 visa stamp in your passport then you would have to get one).

  31. Hi Saurabh,

    My situation:-
    1) On L1B visa for 3+ years in US. L1 extension applied last year and approved.

    1) Current employer has filed for H1B Normal (It doesn’t say with COS) and I got only receipt # in intranet site. I do not see I129. I assume they won’t upload original I129 or I797.
    once my h1b gets approved; how do I change my job based on only I129 receipt #(i.e. without original I129 and I797)?

    2) In Parallel, I tried applying for H1b through consultant. during last couple of months; periodically he told that lca received and they apply soon.
    But today he informed me that my LCA was rejected earlier and they applied new LCA – yesterday 06/05. And it takes about 5 days.
    2.1)Is there any chance LCA gets approved in 1-2 days?
    2.2) do you see any chance of getting it through this year?
    2.3) I suspect consultant company;s intention as he was paying for visa expenses.

    3) My spouse has valid I-94 based on L2 visa till Dec/2013.
    My current employer is saying that she can stay in US based on valid I-94 as my extension has already approved.
    Is it true?

    Once again thanks for all help!

    Waiting for answers from you!


    • Vipul,
      1. Another employer can file H-1 can-exempt petition for you (aka H-1 transfer). It is good to have copy of previously approved petition, but it may still work w/ just the receipt number

      2.1 Less chance of it approving in 1-2 days
      2.2 Can’t say w/ surety

      3. She can stay on L-2 until Dec 2013. However, if your status changes to H-1, then she needs to move to H-4 visa status

      • Hi Saurabh,

        Thanks for quick reply!.

        To re-confirm:- If my current employer has file H1b normal (without COS) and it gets approved.

        1) Other employer X, can file Cap exempt petition with COS while I am in US?
        2) Employer X can use this receipt # as reference and it will work without original or copy of approval notice.

        Let me know; whether I understood it right or not?


          • Saurabh,

            Is there any option; I can bypass my current employer and get duplicate I797 approval notice through USCIS?
            I have been reading about I-824 and FOIA G-639. But not sure whether beneficiary can file it or not?


          • Vipul,
            I don’t think you can use I-824 but I am not so sure about FOIA. You can try that route or check w/ someone who tried that.

  32. Hi Saurabh,
    I am planning to raise H4 visa now for my husband and once the stamping is done, planning for H4 to H1 conversion(spoke with a consultant for doing the same). Can this happen if i start the process on June 7th. Do not know weather the H1B quota is full or not.Can i take up this step now?

  33. Hi Saurabh,
    My spouse has booked Visa appointment for H4 on 15th Jun 2012. I am planning to apply H1 for her through a consultancy before her H4 appointment. I would like to know if pending or applied H1 will have any problems on her H4 visa interview or even the Immigration check while coming to USA.
    Please share your experience on this case.


  34. Hi Saurabh,

    I am a foreign pharmacy graduate from India. I want to know, if an
    independent pharmacy files my h1b visa application as a Pharmacy Intern in the
    state of California (95993), what are the minimum wages per hour? Is there a minimum salary to maintain h1b status? Or it depends on the owner of a pharmacy, how much he/she can offer payment to an employee who is working on h1b visa?
    I will appreciate your help.


    • Vans,
      They will have to file LCA as part of H-1 process. In LCA, they will have to determine what’s the prevailing minimum wage set by DOL for that profession in that district, and then employer has to pay at least that salary.

  35. Hi Saurabh,

    As everybody else mentioned you are doing great job in helping lots and lots of people in immigration related queries. God Bless You !!

    I also have some queries 🙂 , I think its very common question but still very important for me.

    1. Im on L1-B Visa from Employer A, and Employer B is filing my H1-B Visa.
    My L1-B is valid till March 2013. If my H1-B visa gets approved then I can work with new employer from 1st Oct 2012, and cannot work on L1-B visa from AT ALL from 1st Oct 2012.
    In case If need to work for few days or 1 month on L1-B Visa with current Employer-A, then does it has any issue or illegal and can effect my H1-B Visa stamping (when I go back and need to do stamping)?

    Please confirm my understanding.

    2. When B files my H1B visa, it should be filed as COS? So, that I don’t need to immediately go out of US and do stamping. But I also red that H1-B Visa also result in the “cable notification” , in that case its mandate to exit US and go to US consulate in my country for VISA stamping, otherwise I cannot work on H1-B Visa. But if this is the case this will create lot of difficult scenarios / questions like:
    a. Can I work with Emp-A after getting H1-B visa approved with cable notification after 1st of Oct 2012
    b. If I cannot then I need to go back to my country and resign, go for stamping and then resign from Emp-A and come back and work for Emp-B.
    As “cable notification” looks tricky so Im confused whether I should go for H1-B visa filing or not.

    Thanks again for your patience and help !!


    • WorkInUS,
      1. If your H-1 gets approved w/ COS, then you have to work on H-1 from COS approval date (typically Oct 1). If H-1 gets approved w/o COS, then you have to continue working on L-1. In case of COS approval, you may work for few days more for L-1 employer, but definitely do not work for a month on L-1 post COS approval
      2. a. Yes you can continue working for L-1 employer if H-1 is approved w/ consular processing (that’s what you are referring as cable notification)
      b. If you want to start working for H-1 employer, then you either need to file COS from L-1 to H-1, or go out of US get H-1 visa stamped and return to US.

  36. I got approved my VISA today at VFS, HYD…
    VO asked me simple questions..
    Who is your petitioner and client?
    Project details…?
    Who is your onshore manager? where does he works?
    any previous US travel?
    your salary?
    are you married?

    that’all.. told me your VISA has been approved.
    Thanks for all your support and help. have a great day.

  37. Hi Saurabh,
    My wife is in India and she was given green slip in H4 visa interview. We submitted the requested docs and waiting on the status. One of the consultancy here is ready to sponsor H1b for her, as she has prior working exp in India. Since cap quota is almost over, I was wondering if we can apply H1b for her and travel to US on H4 visa once H4 visa is stamped. If H1b is approved, then apply COS from H4 to H1.
    Will this work? Applying H1b, while H4 is under 221(g) cause any issues for H4 ? will COS from H4 to H1 works? or will she need to go for H1 stamping to be able to work on H1 ? Please let me know your suggestions.
    Appreciate your help.

    • Sidhu,
      Yes, this can be done. She can file COS from H-4 to H-1 later, and USCIS will approve/deny it based on submitted documents/information. In case it is denied, then she will have to go for H-1 visa stamping.

  38. Hi Saurabh,

    I came across this website while browsing, and thought you would perhaps be kind to answer my question. I am currently living in the US and my current status is H1B; it expires July 1, 2012. I plan to go on H4 through my husband’s H1 which has been filed but his status will change beginning October 1. Currently he is on F1 (OPT). I was wondering what this means for my status? Will my status be valid in the interim months between now and October 1, when my H4 application is pending and in case it is approved?
    Thanks in advance for your time.

    • Urmila,
      You can request COS w/ start date of Oct 1. This way your COS will be approved w/ date of Oct 1. Until that date you will be on H-1 status, and will be on H-4 status thereafter. You will have to maintain H-1 status until that date.

  39. Hi Saurabh
    i am on H4, my consultancy said my fee will come back to my address if USCIS H1 B quota ends. Is it correct? Will my money returns back to consultancy or me?

    Can you please clarify me


    • Suguna/Anil,
      USCIS will return the package to the employer which would contain uncashed checks and other documents. Nothing is returned to you from USCIS. Your employer can then return them to you. BTW, employer needs to pay for H-1 fees and not you.

      This is the 4th time you have posted the same question, and I have already replied to your 1st and 3rd postings. Did you not read them? As there are lot of questions posted daily, I would appreciate if users can look at previous responses (especially to their own questions) before re-posting the same question.


      • Thanks Saurabh,

        I am really sorry, i didnt get any reply to my email ID so I am bit worried to file my H1B .
        Hence I have posted several times

        Sorry for inconvenience caused

  40. Hi,

    I really appreciate the work this forum does. I’m on L1B and my husband is working here on L2+EAD. His employer has filed for his H1B visa. He got an RFE on that and their attorney is trying to address that. Meanwhile, I’m planning to go to MBA this fall and my classes will start in Aug 1st week. So, we are planning to file Change of Status from L1B to F1 for me and L2 to F2 for my husband (only for 2 months Aug-sept until he starts his work from 1st oct on H1. Is it suggestible to file COS while his H1B is still not approved? Or should I wait until his H1 is applied so that I can request Change of Status?


    • Rani,
      If your COS to F-1 gets approved, then his L-2 will no longer be valid. So it makes sense to file his COS for L-2 -> F-2 as well. If you file it for just 2 months and in case H-1 gets approved w/ COS, then he is all set. However, in case his H-1 gets denied, then he will have to file for F-2 extension to remain in status beyond Oct 1 on F-2.

      Discuss this w/ your attorney as well.

  41. My friends cos is denied from b2 to f1. if he would like to stay a little bit longer, will they look for him, check his house etc?

    • Ahmet,
      If the COS has been denied, then the person should leave US ASAP especially if the I-94 has also expired. Continuing to stay in US will hamper his future chances of trying for another visa to US.

      • Thanks for your reply Saurabh. My friends cos denied but he is still here in USA . The thing is he things he may not get a visa when he apply from his country. And he wanna get married. Untill he gets married, do they search for him or like somebody come his house from immigration?

        • Ahmet,
          Staying back is illegal. I can’t suggest you anything more. You can approach a lawyer for legal advice.

  42. Hi,

    My husband had applied for H1b extension in early Feb 2012. His H1b has finished on 29th feb 2012 so his i-94 is also expired on 29th feb 2012. He got RFE for H1b extension in mid april. i have my valid h1b till Oct 2012. Now he want to apply for COS from H1b to H4. Can he apply for COS when his current i-94 is already expired?


  43. Hi Saurabh,
    I recently received my I-797B, but the COB listed is my citizenship country; different from where I was born; everything was correct in the petition; is this a problem and do i need to get it corrected?

    • Malik,
      You should get it corrected. Talk to your employer/attorney to know if this was a mistake on USCIS side of employer/attorney side. They can then contact USCIS to get it corrected and get an amended petition.

      • Hi Saurabh,
        Thanks for the reply! This was a mistake on USCIS side..my lawyer says it is very common and has been happening for some years and should not be an issue?

        • Malik,
          I don’t know if it is that common, but USCIS will not entertain your request to change it. Only the employer/attorney can call USCIS to get this corrected. I have seen lot of petition experiences posted on this blog, but hardly any w/ incorrect COB.

  44. Hi Saurabh,
    My H1B visa expires on may 2014.
    I got my H1B visa stamped last month.
    I am planning to change jobs in the next month.
    Is there any rule which prohibits me from changing jobs?
    And do I have to go for stamping the next time I visit India?

    • Chandra,
      There is no rule that stops you from changing jobs. You don’t need to go for another H-1 visa stamping as long as the previous H-1 visa stamp is valid and unexpired.

      • Another quick question,

        The employer i am planning to join is filing for H1B next week and the date of joining will be june 15th or later…but my current employment ended on May 21st…. But they have not terminated my employment or revoked my visa. If there is a gap between joining the next job will there be any problems if i am not payed for a month or so?

        • Chandra,
          Yes, it can be an issue if you stayed for 1 month w/o payslip. It may also cause an issue to H-1 transfer as they ask for most recent payslips. You should discuss w/ new employer’s attorney about this.

          • Hi Saurabh,

            I have already sent my last 3 payslips and documents. The delay is on their side as the university that i am moving to is waiting for the chair’s signature on some documents. The start date was supposed to be June 1st but the delay has pushed back the start date.


  45. Hi Saurabh,

    My OPT is expiring on July 4, 2012 and my F1 Visa expires this August. My employer is planning to sponser my H1. I understand that this process is turning out to be very time sensitive. Am I getting this right…?? If an LCA is filed in the last week of June, will I still be eligible for a COS and will I still be able to continue working at my current job until I get an approval/denial from the government?

    Now, as per my understanding, If my employer files a petition on my behalf by July 3rd, 2012, I wil still be able to work (even if my OPT ends and my visa expires). Is filing an LCA the same as filing a petition. I know time is running by superfast and this is very confusing.

    Would appreciate your expert comments on the same.


    • Gurpreet Kaur,
      You can continue to work after OPT expiration date only if I-129 is filed w/ USCIS prior to quota reaching the max. Filing of LCA doesn’t give you cap-gap, but filing of H-1 under quota gives you the cap-gap (which is required to work after OPT expiration date).

      Does that clarify?

      • Yes, so this means that my employer needs to file an LCA, wait for a couple weeks for the certification and then file a petition with a COS (if quota still remains) so that I can still continue to work at my current job.

        Did I get this right?

  46. My wife and I were working in the US. My wife recently lost her job and I still have mine.

    Her last day at work is on 05/29. We also have a trip scheduled to our home country (India) on 06/01. We also (i-539) e-filed for H4 and scheduled a visa interview for her h4 in India.

    1. I wanted to know about what are our options now for maintaining legal status and what’s the legal procedure if my wife wants to start working again?
    2. Should we go to India on 06/01?
    3. If during visa interview she is unable get H4 stamped, what is the procedure if my wife wants to come to USA?


    • Jay,
      1. If she leaves US on 06/01 and then returns after getting her H-4 visa stamped, then she will be maintaining legal status. In future, an employer can file cap-exempt petition for her along w/ COS from H-4 to H-1. Once COS is approved, she can start working on H-1 again. She doesn’t need to wait for April/October dates as she will be cap-exempt
      2. If the COS has been filed before her last date, then she should be fine. However, check this w/ an attorney as well.
      3. If she cannot get H-4 visa stamped, she will have to go for another visa she is eligible for. She can find an employer who can file H-1 petition for her, and she can go for H-1 stamping once the petition has been approved.

      • Hey thanks Saurabh..!!

        I have a follow up question. I just realized my wife has a valid H4 visa stamp (till October 2013), since she never got a chance to leave the US and get an H1B stamp, therefore, her old H4 stamp was not cancelled. This this case does she needs to go for visa interview? (I think she can return to US with same H4 Visa, is that correct?)

  47. I am having valid H1B visa till AUG 2013 with my old company A, recently i have transferred (Got approved) my H1B visa with my new company B. so if i go to India, do i really need to go for H1B stamping again to reenter US or still my old H1B visa with company A will be valid (with approved H1B petition with company B)?

    • Sandeep,
      You can use A’s visa stamp and B’s petition to travel to US. You don’t need to go for stamping again as long as the previous visa stamp is still valid. You can check this w/ your attorney as well.

  48. Hi Saurabh,
    This is a Change of status question. Any inputs from you would help,
    a) Wife in H4 , stamping valid until 2015
    b) Applied COS for H1 based on this years quota starting from Oct 1st 2012.
    c) Need to visit India between July and Sept 2012
    Based on what I see on the net, there was a USCIS Memo on Last Action rule, which can allow my wife to come back to US on Sept 1st week on H4 status , with COS H1 being valid from Oct 1st.

    I wanted understand how the I94 plays here, the I94 number in COS approval would be same as what she has now, and this has to be returned at Port of Exit, and when she comes in she has a new I94. The COS is valid with the old I94 number. So what would be her actualy I94 ? Is there any thing else we need to apply for after coming back to US.



      • Thanks Saurabh,
        I have read the article and it talks about the “last Action Rule”, on how the Change of status on H1B starts at a future date, so my wife can continue to work from Oct1st onwards even if she enters the country on H4 on Sept.
        The article is not very clear about which I94 is the right one after Oct. My interpretation is that the I94 that accompanies Change of Status seems to be the right one (even after returning the original H4 – I94 (which has the same number) the same at Port of Exit). This means the new I94 during entry to US on H4 on Sept is no longer valid as long as she starts working from Oct 1st onwards.
        Looking forward to your opinion on my interpretation.



        • Uday,
          I don’t know what the correct answer is to that question. I would suggest discussing this article and question w/ your attorney.

  49. Hi Saurabh,
    I work here in H1B. And My consultancy sponsored H1B for my husband this 2012 and bought him here by Feb 2012. He hasn’t get the project yet. So he is not receiving pay stub yet. He is getting just the bench salary for last 3 months. I heard from one of my friend, If he is not getting project and not getting pay stub in 6 months, his H1B visa will be expired. Is that true? If he is not getting job for 6 months, what is his status ? Can i ask him to go back to india and come back after 2 months to search project again ? Please advice.


    • Susan,
      On H-1 a person needs to get paid regularly as per the LCA. This holds true irrespective of whether the person is on bench or not. If the bench salary is equal to the LCA salary, and if he has payslips to show that he is getting paid, then he is fine. Otherwise, there is a big issue especially b/c he has been on this arrangement for 6 months now. Not maintaining status for 6 months may result in 3 year ban from US.

      He should talk to his employer and start getting paid. He needs to be paid back wages as well. Otherwise, he should leave US and return on H-1 only when he is sure that he will get paid. I would also suggest talking to an immigration lawyer (not associated w/ the employer) to discuss more options.


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