Change of Status COS FAQs

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

In US Immigration - Visas by SaurabhUpdated : 1313 Comments

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 ?

   

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Comments ( 1,313 )

  1. ramki

    Travel outside during COS

    Hi Saurabh,

    I came to US initially on L1b and it has expired in the 2013 march. But I have a I94 valid till 2015. In April 2013 my company filed my h1-b but unfortunately it couldn’t pick up in lottery. So my company is planning to file the petition again in April’2104. I hope it gets picked next time in the lottery but now my question is:

    1. Can I travel out of US while COS in progress? If I have to travel due to some un-avoidable situations then what will be my next step?

    2. If I have to travel in June before COS gets approved, can I still go to my country and go for stamping since h1b got picked up?

  2. Rosy Richard

    I’m on H-1B. If for any reason my current employer revokes my H-1B , is there a way I can work for another employer on the current H-1B ?

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Rosy Richard,
      You can only work for the employer for which you have an approved petition. So the other employer needs to have their own petition for you in order to work for them.

      1. Rosy Richard

        So, can the other employer use the revoked petition to have the H-1B transferred to them ?

        If No, then is there any way I can work for the other employer without waiting for next year’s quota ?

        1. administrator
          Saurabh

          Rosy Richard,
          It can be used as long as USCIS didn’t revoke it for the reason of review, submission of false/fraud documents etc. If it was revoked b/c employer asked USCIS to do so, then it makes you can-exempt for next 6 years.

      2. druthi

        Hi saurabh/All

        Iam attending for visa nxt week
        MY question is i did my MS in us and i have all my transcripts
        photocopy of my Ms but original certificate (Convacation) is left in my home country and do you think i need to cancel my visa date and should look for the original convacation or is it pretty much fine if i go with transcripts(This is not my 1st H1B ItS extension) PLease suggest on this

        Any early information will be helpful saurabh i need ur presence on this
        As there is no much time left
        Thanks

  3. shaina

    I have an approved H1B petition which got approved in September 2013.I got H4 stamped before my H1B petition was approved.
    I have a stamped H4 Petition valid till october 2014.I was in USA from June to september 2013 on H4.
    I came back to India in September and I am currently in India.

    1. I dont want to use H1B and travel on H4.
    Can I travel back to USA now in November on H4 while having approved H1B petion.

    2. Also In future can I use the H1B(transfering to another employer) which I dont want to utilise now

  4. Cd

    More bad news for people like me who are waiting for approval. There will be more delay.
    We will experience delays to passport and visa services. H-1B visas, for example, will not be processed during the shutdown. 🙁

    1. Cd

      Apologies for the wrong information. I just read that uscis will be functional but e verify won’t be. Also read that it might get affected after 15 days.

  5. H1B COS Success

    Hello Friends,

    My H4 to H1B COS was approved after an RFE from USCIS. My employer is a decent mid size consulting company and actively looking for projects for me. I came to US in March on H4 and applied from this company on April 1st this year. I have H4 stamped in my passport and I-94 when I entered the US. Now I have got the approved I-797 and new I-94 from USCIS for my h1B. My H4 was valid till Dev 31st of this year.

    My question is: if for some reason, I decide to go back on H4 before December 31st, can I use the same H4 visa stamped in my passport? If I go out of US (to Canada) and enter back using the H4 stamp, will that be OK?

    Let me know.

    1. Rahul

      Hi, I am planning on getting an H4 to H1 COS for my wife. Could you kindly suggest which consulting firm’s service did you employ to get your COS done?

      govil.rahul gmail com

  6. Harsh

    I am on F-1 and my school is terminating my I-20 on 20th sep. I have approved h1 and COS from october 1st. I want to know If i will be ok Please reply

  7. Bharat

    Hi Friends,
    I have some questions for H1B stamped Visa.

    I have stamped my H1B visa for a project in Nov 2012 but due to some issue i could not make travel.
    Now i applied H1B amendment(LCA) in regular process for other client with same employer.
    It has been 3 months now, but did not get any approval notice – How much i need to wait?
    Now i came to know here also 2nd project , there is no chance of visit, even after LCA change?
    Now what should i do.?
    Q–> Every time when a client change or location change , does i need to go through same LCA process.?
    Can i change the Employer??Does my Visa will be stil valid.?

    Thanks,

  8. sarin

    Hi Saurabh,
    Need your advice. I came to US on L1b (Valid till 30th september but i-94 till 2016).
    I had two COS applied this year. 1.) L1b to L1a (Filed June 2013, and approved 2013) 2.) L1b to H1b.(Filed April 2013, Approved july 2013, Effective 1st october). Now the H1b employer has withdrawn the approved petition , and my approved application status has gone back to “Initial review”. What will be my status now as of 1st October ?

    Thanks

  9. Ashu

    Hi Sourabh,
    My H1b is not selected in this year, Currently I am in L1b and filled and my L1b extension is in RFE, and I am planning for file h1b next year with same company X.
    How can I plan if I will get h1b next year and get the 6 year complete for my H1b (reset the 6 year cap).
    I came us on 1/1/2012 and leaving the US on 11/5/2013 so it almost (stay duration on L1b is 23 month ).
    My doubt :
    1.is if I come next year on oct14 so my stay time of l1b will club on next year h1b. is it right ?
    2.If I plan to go before sep13 so I can make 365 days gap for next year h1b,is max time reset automatically?
    3.I cannot blind hope on next year h1b that reason I need to utilize the 2 month also and planning to leave US on 11/5/13 onward after respond l1b ext RFE. If I leave the US on (11/5/2013) (23 month in my l1b) and come on h1b in 10 nov 2014 so max time automatically reset.

    Please suggest me if any other option for me.

  10. Sai

    Hi,

    My husband shifted B1 to H1 in US. Iam planing to go for H4 visa in October. Is it easy to get h4 visa stamping for me since, my husband doesn’t have H1 stamping in his passport. I am very much tensed to attend the visa interview.

  11. Mohan

    Hi,

    My wife applied for h1 visa through an consulting firm when she was in US on H4 visa , after applying for h1 on first week of april , we went to india for brother marriage in mid of april and later we came back to US in a 20 days(she got new I94 on H4).
    yesterday her h1 is approved with I94 , now she has two I-94 , will it be problem, how to deal with it, also while applying to SSN , would it be a problem ?

  12. Sreekanth

    Hi Saurabh,
    I need some help regarding the following queries,

    I have an H1B visa which got expired on 2011-nov( stamped oct 2008 to experied nov 2011), I was there in US for 1 year on H1B(jan 2009- dec 2009). Now I am in India, planning to apply for L2(depedant) visa on my spouse L1.
    My question are as follows,
    1) what will happen to my H1B(will it get cancelled ) when I get L2,
    2) Can I reapply H1B once I reach US & What is the process I need to follow to get H1B?
    3) Is it the good thing to go for L2 or shall i find the employer and renew my H1B by being in India and come to US?
    Can You plz reply with your valuable suggestions

    Thanks a ton!
    Sreekanth

    1. Dude

      L2 visa holders can get an EAD (work permit), so it is better you come to US on L2, start working and then apply H1 for next cycle. Since you had a H1 visa earlier, you will not be subject to quota. All is well for you

  13. Shaina

    Hi Saurabh,
    I am in US on H4.I am on leave from my current employer who has filed an H1 for this year.H1 was filed before I entered US on H4 and it is under RFE Status

    Question 1:As now I am in US on H4,If I go back to home country ,does my employer need to file COS once I get my H1B Approval.

    Question 2:If I get Visa approval ,Do I need 3 months payslip for stamping,as I do not have payslip as I was on leave since 3 months so does that mean I need to stay in my home country for 3 months to get payslip and then go for stamping.

    Question 3:If I decide not to go back to home country and stay in US ,I can still be on H4 even if my H1B petition is approved.

    1. Dude

      The best option is to stay put in US till your visa is approved. Then apply CoS. Then start working and may be after 6 mnths go back to home country for stamping.
      btw, even if you are on leave, you should get a payslip from your employer indicating 0 salary.

  14. mkv17011

    How much does L1A to H1B COS cost ? Is it similar to new Visa. My situvation is as follows, please help.
    I am in India currently and work for a company, say company-A, by past 10 years.
    As my company didn’t give any assurance for USA visa, I went ahead and processed H1B through another company (consultancy) say company-B and the petition got approved (effective from Oct-1st, 2013). Now my current company, company-A wants to process L1A and send me immediately to USA (I will stamp only L1A not H1B in that case)
    My wish is to come to USA on L1A Visa and after few months resign from Company-A and move to H1B for company-B. So I have the following questions.
    1) Is it possible to move from L1A to H1B being in USA ?
    2) If there is a way, how much does that cost (I heard that, it will cost similar to new H1B) ?

  15. SR

    Hi,

    I got my fresh H1B approval this year but due to some circumstances I think I am not able to join my job in Oct 1st 2013.
    I would like to know how long my H1B petition will be active if I cant join in Oct 1st 2013 ?
    Is it true if I cant join in Oct my H1B visa will be cancelled immediately?

    Thanks
    SR

  16. Rosy Richard

    Hello,

    I’m currently employed with Employer A ( a typical consulting/staffing firm) on H-1B. A very well known and reputed american product company, B, has extended a job offer to me and they are ready to sponsor my H-1B. My current employer, A, needs a two week notice. My new employer, B, wants me to join as soon as they receive notice of the H-1B transfer.

    However, I don’t want to take any chance and want to join B, only after the H-1B transfer is approved.

    My question is, once my transfer to employer B is approved, can I work for employer A for two weeks and serve the notice period before I join employer B ? What are the pros and cons ?

    In the future, let’s say B lays me off, for whatever reason, can I join A back ? How soon can I join ? What are the pros and cons ?

    1. Rosy Richard

      I’m on H-1B. I’m my current employer revokes my H-1B , is there a way I can work for another employer on the current H-1B ?

    2. administrator
      Saurabh

      Rosy Richard,
      Even after B’s petition is approved, you can continue working for A as long as you want. If you are working for A, and B withdraws the approved petition then you can continue working for A as long as they have not withdrawn the petition and are ready to hire you back.

  17. panaromix

    Hi Saurabh,

    I have my L1 through company X which is expiring on Nov 2 2013. I also have my approved H1 COS through company Y starting from Oct 1 2013. Can I continue to work for company X till Nov 2 2013 and then start working for company Y starting from Nov 3 2013 and will this affect my GC process in any way. Please advise. Appreciate your help!

    Thanks!

  18. joseph

    I stumbled upon your blog internet site on google and view a few of your early content. Continue to keep up the very good operate. I just extra up your RSS feed to my personal MSN Media Reader. Searching for forward to reading through more of your stuff later on!…

  19. Ray

    1. Can I-824 can be used to receive duplicate copy of Approval notice I-797.
    2. How to make sure that the duplicate copy is sent to my address and not the employer holding the H1B.
    3. Timelines?
    4. Will the documents be sent to India Address and Can I file this from India.
    5. Will my employer be notified that a duplicate copy has been requested
    6. How much time does H1b transfer take under normal processing and under premium processing
    7. Can I ask my new employer to send me to US on business visa and then I apply for COS from business visa to H1B

  20. Ramesh

    Hi,

    My H1 is under administrative processing at the consulate from employer X. Meantime , I have got L1 from employer Y and I came to US.

    Now my employer X wants me to change the status from L1 to H1 , in the meantime I have got an email from USCIS to submit the following documents

    · Market research of the product
    · The project is currently in which phase of development?
    · Provide the list of employees working on this project
    · Quarterly tax and wage reports for 2012
    · W2 copies for all employees working on this project for 2012
    · Tax returns for 2012

    Now is it good idea to go with L1 to H1 change of status ?

    Thanks,
    Ramesh

  21. Baishali

    Hi Saurabh,

    I am on H4 visa and planning to apply H1B next year. I heard that if I apply H1B visa in premium quota, I may get H1B approval in 1 month time and as soon as I get H1B approval I can start working immediately and no need to wait till october 2014.
    And if I apply H1B in regular quota I have to wait till october 2014 to start working.

    So I just want to know whether my understanding is correct or not?
    If I apply H1B next year in premium quota and as soon as i receive H1B approval I can start working immediately and If i apply in regular quota I have to wait till october 2014 to start working here.

    Kindly help me to solve my query.

    Thanks
    Baishali

    1. CD

      Hi Baisali,

      No this information provided to you is incorrect. You can start working on a fresh H1B approved petition only on or after October 1st of the year in which you applied for it. The processing type (premium/regular) is irrelevant here.

      Regards
      CD

  22. joe

    HI Saurabh..

    I have an approved H1B and I am in india..
    Can I file B2 visa come to US, apply for COS and change my status from B2 to H1B?
    Do I need to first get a job and then apply for COS or apply for COS and then search for a job?

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Joe,
      That would be misuse of B-2 visa and I strongly advice against it. Go for H-1 stamping and then enter on stamped H-1 visa.

  23. Sania

    Hi saurabh,
    I need some suggestion.
    I have an approved h1b kicking off on oct 1… In the meanwhile my company
    Wants me to return to offshore by aug end.
    So incase i hv to file for a COS from L1 to F1/b2
    And later withdraw it before or on sep 30 what would be
    The last action rule on my status.

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Sania,
      You can move to a status in b/w and later withdraw it after Oct 1. This way, the last application to go into effect would be H-1 from Oct 1, and you are good.

      If this COS gets approved prior to Oct 1, then also the last petition to go into effect will be H-1 from Oct 1 and so you are still good.

      Problem arises when this COS petition gets approved after Oct 1, in which case last petition to go into effect will be COS.

      Talk to your attorney as well about this.

      1. Sania

        Hi saurabh,
        If i withdraw will my gap between status collapse or is it something legal.
        Is it something that if i withdraw then my status collapses.
        Please advise.

        1. administrator
          Saurabh

          Sania,
          I don’t think it will put you in illegal status. When COS or extension is applied and your I-94 expires, it puts you in “Period of Stay Authorized by the Attorney General”. This holds true for 240 days or COS denial date (whichever is earlier). In the case extension is denied, you will start accumulating illegal status from the date of decision and not from I-94 expiration date.

          IMO, same logic applies to withdrawal of petition. You start accumulating illegal status from the day petition is withdrawn and not from I-94 expiration date.

          You should still run this by your H-1 attorney.

          1. Sania

            Hi saurabh,
            Thanks for the replies. Problem is my H1b lawyer is on vacation and i have no one to run these things.he would be back only on aug end.

            Is it true that i can stay in 10 days before my h1 start date?
            Also can you direct me to some immigration lawyer in case I need to file a Cos

  24. Alo

    Hello Saurabh,

    Need your kind help. I am currently in H4 Visa. My H1 COS has been approved from 1-OCT. Now because of my personal reason, I may not be able to start work from 1-oct.

    My question – If I do not start working from 1-oct will my present H4 status become invalid?
    Is there any way to continue my present H4 status and in future go back to H1? Please let me know. Appreciate your time.

    Thanks

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Alo,
      If your H-1 has been approved w/ COS, then you need to take action to stop that from happening. Easiest way to ensure you remain on H-4 status is to leave US prior to Oct 1 and return to US on H-4 visa after Oct 1.

      1. Observed

        Saurabh,

        Is it necessary to start working from Oct 1st if H1 gets approved? What is the maximum a person can stay unemployed on H1?

  25. Allen

    Hi Saurabh,

    Could you please help on this query?

    1) I have L1B valid till 04-Nov-2013, I-94 till 03-Oct-2015 with current employer
    2) Another employer applied for H1B COS and is in process.
    3) My current employer is planning to apply L1B extension.

    Will this affect my H1B COS?

    Thanks in advance
    Allen

    1. ashu

      Hi Allen, Don’t File your L1b Extension, other wise last rule action will apply in your case.
      my suggestion stay in US based on your I-94 and wait for another job and switch after oct13. don’t send any paper for extension.
      Hi Saurabh, Please confirm if above is correct.

  26. vibgyor05

    Hi Saurabh,

    I really need your expert help.
    I was in US on L1B, My L1B expired so I did a COS to L2 on my spouse’s L1B.
    Because of some personal reasons I had to travel back to India in (my COS was approved by that time) but now I need to go back so before that I need to go for L2 stamping to Re-Enter US.
    Unfortunately my employer is not willing to process My L2 ( Me and my spouse both work for same company) So I am planning to go for stamping on my own.

    – I want to know is it possible for me to get the stamping done on my own? ( I already have a approved petition for L2)
    – What documents will I need ( Do I need anything from the employer?)
    – Do I need to pay the visa fee again ( as it was already given when COS was applied)
    – Also a different Employer has filed for my spouse’s H1 (COS), will that be a problem if it is approve before I go for stamping? ( H1 should only be valid after 1st of Oct, so I should be able to stamp L2 and enter US before that right?)

    please help me.

  27. callmefriend

    Hi Saurabh,

    I am currently on L1B visa. my Visa is expired in July 2013. I am staying in US on I-94 which is valid till June 2014. My Company applied for my H1B and it is approved. I want to apply for my dependents H4 visa now.

    I have some questions to ask. Please do answer.
    1. Where I can get the H4 approval for dependents. In US or in India? Which is best option?
    2. When I should go to India after October month, for H1B stamping? What document I needed?
    3. What is the safe option to get H1B stamping done without going back to India?

    Thanks

  28. Charley

    Hi,
    1) Did I abandon my status?
    My H1b got approved with COS. I am currently in the US on an OPT-visa, with a Cap-Cap till oct 1st. I traveled outside the US for 2 weeks and had to hand in my I94 that was in my passport. I entered the US using my valid I-20, EAD card and F1 in my passport.
    2) Is it still okay to wait till 2014 to go for my H1 stamping in my home country?
    3)Do I have to file for a COS again because I don’t have a new I-94 more (digital now)? or inform USCIS my re-entering the country ? Just very worried that my paperwork is not correct. My lawyer is not really helpful. I requested my H1 without COS but he didn’t do this.

    Please help me!

    Thanks,
    Charley

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Charley,
      Did you travel outside US after H-1 approval or prior to that?

      BTW, if you would have applied w/o COS, then you wouldn’t have been eligible for cap-gap.

      1. Charley

        Hi Saurabh,

        Thanks for taking the time to reply.
        I traveled after I got my H1 approved (was pure luck, I received it 3 days before I left ).

        My friend applied for w/o COS she did get a new I-20 for the cap-cap. I asked my lawyer to do the same, but he didn’t. This was a big surprise for me.

        Please let me know what your advise is for my situation. I really appreciate it.
        Thanks,
        Charley

        1. administrator
          Saurabh

          Charley,
          That I-20 is incorrect. One of the cap-gap requirements is that COS should have been applied along w/ H-1 petition.
          1. You are in status. COS will still go into effect from Oct 1 as you left US after COS approval.
          2. Yes, you can go for stamping anytime you leave US in future while the petition is still valid.
          3. You will be on H-1 status from Oct 1 as you left US after COS approval. The I-94 attached to H-1 approval notice will become your active I-94 from Oct 1. Your attorney can confirm this.

  29. Vinod

    Hi Saurabh,

    I have a question for you.

    I am currently on L1B Blanket Visa which is valid till Nov 2013 and my I94 is also valid till Nov 2013. I applied for H1B COS which is approved and starts Oct 1st 2013.
    My current Employer is asking me to go back to India on Aug 26 2013.
    1. Can I resign on Aug 26 before Oct 1st and still stay in the US as I have a valid I94 which is valid till Nov 2013 or will I go out of status?
    2. What are my options to stay in US and maintain my status?

    Please advise. Thanks in advance. Appreciate all the help!

    Thanks!

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Vinod,
      1. No, you cannot do that. You will not be maintaining L-1 status if you resign from L-1 employer
      2. I can’t think of any. You can return after getting H-1 visa stamped in the passport, or move to another visa status like B-1/2 for those 2 months.

      1. Vinod

        Saurabh,

        Thanks for your reply! But do you think moving to B-1/2 for 2 months may raise red flags in my future H1B or GC process? Please let me know your opinion.

        1. administrator
          Saurabh

          Vinod,
          1-2 months should not cause an issue if you can show that you have valid reasons to stay. If you want to play safe, then leave US and return after getting H-1 visa stamped.

          1. doomed

            Hi Vinod/Saurabh,
            I am also in a similar situation. I was thinking about F1 will it be possible to movr back from F1 to h1… let me know please

          2. administrator
            Saurabh

            Doomed,
            Technically you can move to F-1. However COS itself takes time and you will have to get I-20 from school etc. So be very careful when going down this road and consult your H-1 attorney about it.

          3. Vinod

            Hi Saurabh,
            How much time does it take for L1B to B1 COS and B1 to H1B visa. I already have a approved H1B valid from 1st Oct 2013 until Nov 2014. I am planning to resign on Aug 26 2013. When should I ideally start the L1B to B1 COS and when should I start the B1 to H1B COS ? Also once I change to B1, I am assuming I cannot work from Oct 2013 till my B1 to H1B COS is completed. Also what are the chances of getting the L1B to B1 and B1 to H1B COS approvals and the costs involved in the same. I also have a dependent.Please advise. Appreciate your help!

            Thanks,
            Vinod.

          4. administrator
            Saurabh

            Vinod,
            Talk to your H-1 attorney to see if you can apply for B-1 for period of Aug 26 to Sep 30. This way, your B-1 will end on Sep 30 and H-1 will start from Oct 1. You can apply this anytime prior to your L-1 end date. However, if possible file 1-2 weeks in advance.

          5. h1b doomed

            Hi Vinod/Saurabh,
            as i mentioned earlier.. I am in a similar boat. My h1b dcsn is still pending . How are you applying for a B1(i mean who is filing for it…since its a business visa.. or is it B2 you are speaking of)…

            Let me know what is ur action plan…

          6. doomed

            Hi Saurabh,
            Thanks for the input.What you are saying I can change from L1 to B2 and stay put here and later move into H1 when it comes?

            ALso my H1 was moved into PP and today my status again changed to Acceptance.. is this okay>

            Please let me know.

            Vinod,
            what path are you following .. if you could guide me as well

          7. administrator
            Saurabh

            Doomed,
            Yes, that’s what I am saying. However, one needs to be careful about the timing as your eventual status will be determined by the petition approval order. So I suggest talking to your attorney about it.

            Yes, it is normal for them to go to Acceptance on being upgraded.

  30. ashu

    Hi Saurabh,
    My wife working on L2-EAD, Her I-94 will expire on 1-Sep-2013, and Visa & EAD expire on 31-Aug-2013. we are waiting for H1B Approval, recently converted in to premium processing, due to fast result. please ans me for below que.
    1. she can not stay for 2-sep to 30-sep (29days) because her I-94 expire what we can for for the same.
    2. if she will move out from US without decison comes of h1b, due to I-94, so H1b Visa get voided/lapsed?
    3. what we can do to stay on sep if she get H1b Approvala and start from 1oct2013.
    4. we need to avoid india trip for stampping only and manage 30 days, how can we avoid.

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Ashu,
      1. Apply for L-2 extension
      2. H-1 will remain approved but COS will be abandoned. She can return on L-2 and apply for COS, or enter on stamped H-1 visa
      3, 4. Refer (1). Do you know if her H-1 was applied w/ COS? You may get RFE for the I-94 issue.

      1. ashu

        Thanks Saurabh sir,
        1. I can not file L2 extesion if she file then h1b and l2 both applied on same time so “Last Action Rule” will come in picture. is it right sir ? that reason we are not apply her l2 extension. most of the guys are advice me don’t file l2 ext because approval is done till today.
        2. We decided to go India on 29 aug next month and get stamped. is it right to handle all those situation?
        3. Applied H1b on COS but this was not my mistake , this is my attorney/employer mistake if RFE come what what i need to do?

        1. administrator
          Saurabh

          Ashu,
          1. Yes, LAR will come into play. The H-1 is filed w/ PP, so you will know its result soon (unless RFE is issued). You can apply for L-2 extension for just 1 month, or withdraw it after Sep 30th so that status remains H-1 after Oct 1.
          2. What do you want to get stamped? L-2 or H-1?
          3. Nothing you can do except to submit proof of L-2 extension. The other option is to leave US, ask them to change it to consular processing (COS is abandoned if you leave US while it is pending) and then return on stamped H-1 visa or L-2 visa and file for separate COS.

          Please don’t address me as Sir 🙂

          1. ashu

            Thanks Saurabh
            1. applying L-2 extension for just 1 month, or withdraw it after Sep 30th it looks risk for me because my employer is different, if they not withdraw so it will be risk for me that’s reason safe side my wife planning to go india on 29 aug 2013 and come back with h1b stamp.
            2. We are going for H1b stamping, hope we will get approval notice by next week without any issue.
            3. My attorney was saying me about “change consular processing” sometime i don’t about the ” consular processing ” but they advice to go out of US and as per their guideline we decided to go and come back after stamping .
            please guide me if any things wrong on their advice.
            thanks to clarify the ” consular processing”,
            I really appreciate your hard work to reply with correct solution, that’s reasons i called “sir”

          2. administrator
            Saurabh

            Ashu,
            Consular processing means the person will appear for H-1 visa stamping and then travel to US to move to H-1 status. It is what you are doing.

            She can leave US, appear for H-1 visa stamping and then return to US around H-1 start date.

          3. ashu

            Yes, Saurabh, As you know we are already converted in to PP for her h1b, and waiting for approval and planing to go India on 29 Aug and i think we will get the result before leaving the country(if rfe not come), and planning to come US after stamping.
            is that right decision sir ?

          4. administrator
            Saurabh

            Ashu,
            Yes, it is ok. However, she cannot return on stamped H-1 visa until Sep 20th. So plan your return accordingly.

  31. Ronny

    Hello i m current in B1-B2 status i applied to change my status to H1B visa on the i got a postal green card but i dont see any receipt numbers on it. i have to leave the country on september 7th i dont know what to do cuz it ll seen that i m quiting the process so what should i do any answer is going to help a lot.

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Ronny,
      I don’t know what green card you have received. USCIS will send all the communication to employer/attorney. Did you check w/ your attorney/employer as to where your H-1 petition is at.

      1. Ronny

        Hello Saurabh thanks for answer.
        Well, we are new in the process. My employee got a postal card with the address where the patition was sent saying received. I think they mean that they reveived the petition. My question is what am i suppose to get an Email with my code number or what.. And how long usually its take that.

        Thank you Saurabh

        1. administrator
          Saurabh

          Ronny,
          All communication is sent to the employer and not the employee. Your employer must have received the confirmation receipt. Check w/ them if they have received a receipt number or not. If your B-1/2 is expiring, then you should contact an attorney immediately to discuss next series of steps.

          1. Ronny

            Saurabh, Thank you so much for answer.
            I contacted my employer as you said they havnt received anything yet. Not even the confirmation receipt. how long does it take to get at least the confirmation receipt?.
            thanks for everything.

          2. administrator
            Saurabh

            Ronny,
            Then there is a good chance that you didn’t make through the cap. Ask your attorney/employer to follow-up w/ USCIS. IMO, you should leave US as per your current B-1/2 dates and wait for H-1 processing from outside US.

            Do not stay in US on B-1/2 unless you talk to a good attorney. Even if you plan to file for B-1/2 extension, it is better to consult a good attorney first.

  32. desi_indy

    Hi

    I am currently on L1 and my wife is on H1. I have filed for my L1 extension and I am not very optimistic about the result, given the current approval trend.
    Anticipating this, I have also filed for my H1 this year (2013) and it has got a query after lottery pick to which I need to reply. Meaning, H1 approval would take some more time.

    So, if my L1 is rejected,
    (1) I need to move to H4 and
    (2) later once I get my H1 approval, should move on to H1.

    Currently, I am at step (1) and trying to understand the best time to file for my H4 COS. Can I do it on the day I get my rejection and receive a receipt and stay in US legally or is it something which I need to apply in advance in order not to lose the status. But if I do that and get my L1 approval, what will I have to do? I do not want to leave US and want to have the COS from US only.

    I am in a disarray and request your kind suggestions/advices.

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      desi_indy,
      Your H-4 COS needs to be filed prior to L-1 rejection. IMO, you should file for H-4 COS now.

      This will cause 3 petitions to be in progress – L-1 extension, H-1 COS and H-4 COS.

      If L-1 extension gets approved, you can withdraw H-4 COS and let H-1 COS proceed to finally overtake your status when it gets approved.

      If L-1 extension is denied, let your H-4 COS to proceed. If it gets approved prior to H-1 COS, you will still be on H-1 from Oct 1 or H-1 COS approval date. If H-1 is denied, then you will be on H-4.

      Do you know about “Last Action Rule”? Is the H-1 employer willing to upgrade H-1 petition to PP to get quicker result? Also, consult your H-1 attorney about this.

      1. desi_indy

        Thanks Saurabh.

        My current L1 i-94 expired in Feb and currently I am staying with the receipt number.
        I learned that one cannot do a H4 COS with out a valid i-94. Is it true? If it is, then I do not have an option other than to go back to India and get H4, come back and do a H1 COS.
        Also, I am not aware of Last Action Rule. May I know how it is applicable in my case? I am discussing on PP with my employer so I will know upfront all my options.

        1. administrator
          Saurabh

          desi_indy,
          Yes, H-4 COS cannot be done w/o an unexpired I-94.

          Yes, you will have to leave US, get H-4 visa stamped and then go for H-1 COS; or you can go for H-1 visa stamping and return on the same.

          Last Action Rule will not apply in your case as your L-1 I-94 has expired and so H-4 COS and H-1 COS are not applicable at the moment.

  33. Prakash

    Hi Sourabh,

    I am currently on L1B (Visa expired but having I-94 till Nov 2014) i am working with employer A on L1B. I have applied for H1B from Employer B with COS and waiting to get it approved. My Question here is, is there any risk if i go to India and Get my Visa Stamped after 1st Oct and come back in 1 month ? Or should i joined new employer here and work for sometime and then go to India for Break.

    Thanks in advance,
    Prakash

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Prakash,
      If you work for employer B for sometime and then go for stamping, then make sure you get paid for that time and carry the payslips. You can be asked about client/project letter which is easy to get and vouch for if you are already working for a client through B. Questions related to employer’s financial status, wage reports etc can be asked in either case.

      How confident are you that your employer will be able to pay you H-1 salary right from Oct 1?

  34. H1bSeek

    Saurabh,

    I am on L1, applied H1 thru another employer got approved with COS. I need to give 1 month notice period or pay 5k if I quit L1 employer before 1 month. I doubt if they tell me to come back to India during the notice period then my COS will be invalid and getting visa stamping is another headache.. Is it legal to stay from Sep 1st if my H1 is effective from Oct 1. Or is there any option that I can start work with H1 employer 2nd week of Oct. I read some where in the blog that it is legal to stay in US 15 days before the H1 effective date..

    I am planning to send my resignation by Aug 30th and last submission date would be Sep 30th. So from October 1st, I will start working with H1b employer. My only concern over here, how to manage/handle if they tell me to come back to India during my notice period.

    Second option : To be on safer side, just give them 2 weeks notice period and even if they ask me to quit I will be on safer side as my H1 is approved but I need to pay 5k to get the resignation letter..

    Your response is highly appreciated….

    My L1 visa is valid until dec’13.

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      H1BSeek,
      Legally, you should maintain L-1 status until Sep 30. Having said that, few days here and there shouldn’t cause an issue in future (not saying that USCIS cannot question this in future). So if you do decide to end your L-1 tenure a little early, it may be ok. You should still confirm w/ your H-1 attorney about it.

      Why do you need resignation letter? It will not help w/ your H-1 processing (now or in future). When it comes to Green Card processing, you may be asked to show detailed experience letters from old employers. At that time, the standard resignation letter or experience letter doesn’t work. You need a letter which details what skill-sets you learned at that employer during which period etc. Some employers do not issue such letters. Will your employer issue such a letter? Yes, it may come in handy if you decide to move back to India.

  35. swa

    hi,

    I am on H4 for the last 4 years. I worked for 4 years in India before that. I have applied for H1b this year and got selected in the lottery. My question is would the USCIS deny my petition just because I had a long break.

    thanks

  36. meonline2013

    Currently on L1B with I94 expiring on 20th Sep 2013 and current employer filed for H1B and is in initial review stage. H1B is filed with COS (L1-H1) and since COS filed before expiring of I94;
    1. Can I stay legally beyond expiring of I94 (20 Sep 2013); if COS (L1-H1) case is in progress and pending for final decision.
    2. And if COS approval comes after 01-Oct-2013; Is it ok to continue without going out of country for any visa stamping.
    3. What if H1B approval come after 01-Oct-2013 and COS denied, whether my stay considered to be illegal for those days.

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      meonline2013,
      Even if H-1 gets approved w/ COS, there will be a break in I-94 continuity. The current I-94 expires on Sep 20, while H-1 I-94 cannot begin until Oct 1. So you cannot stay in US b/c of this break in continuity.

      Your L-1 extension needs to be filed in order for you to continue to stay in US beyond Sep 20. Until your H-1 COS goes into effect, you will remain on L-1 status and hence it is important to file L-1 extension if H-1 remains pending.

      1. Ramana21

        I am currently on L1 with Employer1. I have applied for H1B COS thru Employer2 and got a petition approved. Received an I94 which is active from Oct 1st. I have now applied for L1Ext thru Employer1. My L1B visa expired and I am on the receipt number received for L1B ext. My current I94 expires in Dec 2013.

        If I get L1B ext approved:

        1. Will I be able to work beyond Oct 1st on L1B and change job whenever I find a job on H1B?
        2. Can I travel to India before Oct, get L1 ext stamped and come back?

        If I get L1B ext rejected:
        1. I will have to go back to India. Can I get H1 visa stamped though I have applied for H1B COS?

      2. Newtoforum

        I have the same scenario but only thing is that I’m completing 5 years limit of L1B on sept 17, 2013 and have the I-94 until Jan 2014. Please let me know if i need to travel back to home country to get the H1 stamped ?

        Thanks

        1. administrator
          Saurabh

          Newtoforum,
          If you are completing 5 years inside US, then you should leave US and return after your H-1 petition has been approved and you get the visa stamp. Note that only time spent physically inside US is counted towards the 5 year limit.

  37. L1 To H1 COS

    when COS is in progress, if i leave US would it be mandatory to get my H1 stamped?
    or should i initiate the amendment process for COS again?
    Can somebody help me with right info as i badly need to visit india this august for 20 days.

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      L1 To H1 COS,
      IMO, both are possible. You can either return after getting H-1 visa stamped, or return on current visa (assuming it is still applicable for return) and then file for COS. Still check w/ your H-1 attorney before leaving US.

  38. **URGENT*** Query on H-4 Tavel

    Hi Saurabh/Anyone

    My wife is on L2 visa right now and this year I hv filed for H1B myself and H-4 for her and her L2 visa is valid till DEC 2013. Is it safe for her to travel to India now while L-2 to H-4 is in process and come back before 1st Oct. or there is a risk?

    Thanks
    Rahul

  39. Pavan Varma

    Does anyone in EAC13143**** series got approval notice?… Mine is still in initial review status from 23 rd of April

  40. Praneeth

    Hi,

    I am currently working on L1 from last 1.5years. I have applied for H1 this year and my application got selected in lottery. I have plans to study for an year, is it advisable for me to apply in a college, get I20 and change my status from L1 to F1, and work on CPT for some months and when i get my H1 approved, change my status from F1 to H1? Also, Can you suggest any universities that offer CPT from day 1?

    Do you see any challenges while changing this status from L1 to F1 while H1 is in process?

    Kindly advise.

    Many Thanks,

  41. pvd

    Hi,

    I was on H4 and I have got my H1 visa approved last week. I have a question that

    what is my status now? is it H4 or status is changed to H1? My H4 is expiring on Jul 2013.

    Do I need to apply for H4 extension or not?

    If yes then how to change the status back to H1 by Oct 2013?

    Please give me some suggestion ASAP.

    Thanks in advance

    1. LM

      Hey PVD, I am also in the same boat, My visa expires in August. My attorney told me to apply for extension of visa till Sept 30th 2013 and from October I can work. What did your attorney tell you? Please reply- libis22 at gmail dot com

  42. H4 Help

    I have H4 stamped on my passport and have got H1b approved for this year quota.
    I need to travel to US on H4 Visa in this month….will that affect my H1B approved status??

    Please let me know as soon as possible.

  43. Shaina

    Hi Saurabh,

    I need urgent help…
    I have H4 Visa,will be traveling to US next week for first time.I have not told to my current company regarding my US travel.
    Also My current Indian company has filed H1B this year and my status is ‘Selected in lottery”.
    So may be i will get an approval in 2 to 3 months..
    Now when my approval comes…
    1.Can I transfer my visa to another company staying in US only.
    2.During these months as I will be on leave from my current company ,..so will that be an issue in h1b transfer.
    Actually the reason i dont want to go with my current employer is that They will provide me an opportunity which is not in the state where my husband is working so i want to go with the employer who can place me in the same state.

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Shaina,
      1. Yes
      2. No

      What you need to do is find another employer and once your current petition has been approved, ask that new employer to file a cap-exempt petition (aka H-1 transfer) along w/ COS from H-4 to H-1. Once approved you can start working on H-1 for that new employer.

      1. imsengr

        Hi Saurabh,

        Can H-1 transfer happen even if the beneficiary has not worked for the petitioning employer? (That is without paystubs)

        1. administrator
          Saurabh

          Imsengr,
          Cap-exempt petition can be filed even w/o payslips either from inside US or outside. However, if you have ever been to US on H-1 and don’t have payslips then new H-1 will not be issued w/ I-94 (i.e. when you are inside US at the time of filing). This means, you need to leave US and return to US w/ the new petition and an unexpired visa stamp.

          Are you asking about the scenario when the person has never been to US? No payslips exist in this case and hence not required.

          1. imsengr

            Hi Saurabh,

            Thanks for replying.

            Yes the scenario is that the person has never traveled to US on H1. Like if I get my 2014 H1b from employer A and get it stamped as well, but before travel if I find employer B, can I transfer it and then do a re-stamping?

            Regards

  44. Tinag D

    Hi Saurabh,
    I got my H1 but I have a question please. Recently, I got my raise, and I told my HR to inform the attorney as my company is e-verified and I want my payslip show the same as on USCIS file. The attorney responded that they need to refile my LCA & H1B for amendment and told that it will take only upto like three weeks.
    Will there be any problem? I don’t want to loose my H1B, which I fought so hard.

  45. AT

    My friend had a valid H1b that expired in Nov. 2012. His company applied for an extension (as he still has 4 years left on his H1b). His extension went on Query and on May 9th 2013 the extension was denied. As he does not have a valid H1b, he is currently out of status.
    His Wife has a valid H1b and can he apply for H4 through her.
    Our understanding is that he has to first apply for COS but one of the requirements for COS is a valid I94.
    Can you please advice on next steps. Can he apply for H4 from US without leaving the country.

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      AT,
      Sorry for the late reply. The right thing to do is leave US and return on stamped H-4 visa. He cannot file COS as his I-94 has expired. Once in US on H-4, he can file COS to H-1 at a later stage.

  46. Saly

    My husband got approval on COS from F1 to H1B lately. I need to know if I am traveling in July to my home country with my son:
    1- if I need to come can I come back with the current visa before October or I should stamp the H4 visa in my home country
    2- if I should stamp the H4 visa when I can come back in the USA (before October)

    1. anonymous

      Saly
      if you have your F2 visa stamped, then you can come back with your current Visa. if not, you need to apply for your H4 in your home country before returning . you can apply 90 days prior to your new status is in effect, which I believe is October 1st but you can only enter the US 10 days prior to October 1st , which would be September 21st

      1. Saly

        I have already approval on COS to H4. I need to know if in my home country I need just to go and stamp the visa or do from scratch a new application to H4. In that case the approval on COS will not be useful at all.

          1. xyz

            I am sorry, but I just gave you incorrect information.

            As far as i can tell (based on other discussions in the blog) as long as you have a valid visa to come back before Oct 1, you may not need H4 stamped. After Oct 1 is something you need to confirm with saurabh.

    2. administrator
      Saurabh

      Saly,
      Like mentioned by anonymous, you can get H-4 visa stamped at most 90 days prior to H-1 start date. This turns out to be after July 1 or July 3. Even then you cannot travel to US on that visa stamp until Sep 21st (10 days prior to H-1 start date). The stamping process varies from consulate to consulate. You will have to check the consulate website in your country. It generally involves submitting fees, scheduling appointment date, biometrics and then appearing for interview.

      If you already have F-2 visa stamped in the passport, then you can return on F-2 visa stamp prior to Sep 21 w/o going for H-4 visa stamping. Assuming your COS from F-2 to H-4 was also filed, you will automatically move to H-4 status from Oct 1 as long as you return on F-2 prior to Oct 1.

  47. KD

    Joe,
    1.My husband and I entered US under B2 with multiple entry in April 2012. By october, my husband decided to apply for F1 and study and applied me as his dependent on F2.
    2.On november, I found a job which applied for expedited processing to H1B which was approved a week later.
    3. Then, my husbands f1 approved on January 2013, but up until now we haven’t received any response to my F2 whether it was denied or approved. Should there be any problem with my status?I want to stay on H1B, what do I need to do?
    4. recently, I applied my husband under H4, and now we received RFE to show them my pay stubs.

    1. B2toF1

      HI KD, I applied for my B2 to F1 in April 2013. Could you please let me know what documents your husband submitted to get this approved? It would be very helpful to me in case I get RFE. Did your husband also get RFE for B2 to F1?

      Thanks for your help!

  48. naksha

    Hi ,

    I have a question . My H1 b got picked in lottery this year and it was from h4 to h1 . now my husband is going back to f1 due to problems with his current job . I will be going to f2 then and the COS might take up to 2 months is what I heard . In the mean time as my H1 is under process will there by any problem with my H1 approval ?

    Please help me .

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      naksha,
      It will not create problems but there are somethings you need to watch out for:
      – make sure F-2 COS is approved by Oct. This way approved H-1 COS will go into effect from Oct 1.
      – if F-2 COS is approved by the time your petition is processed, USCIS may issue RFE asking for proof of maintaining F-2 status. You will have to submit the documentation for the same

      Keep your H-1 attorney in loop about all this

  49. Joe

    1. Earliest by when can we appear for H1B stamping in india if H1B is approved ?
    2. What is the average time of processing for H1B application. In which month (May,Jun, Jul, Aug,Sep) can I expect to receive the approval?
    3. I am on L1 and employer is sending me back in before oct1, is there an ETHICAL & LEGAL way to stay back till OCT1, assuming that H1B is approved before i leave ?
    4. Can i apply for tourist visa and stay here until oct1 and then change status ?

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Joe,
      1. At most 90 days prior to H-1 start date
      2. If everything goes fine, then stamped passport is received within 1 week. If it is put in administrative processing, then it can take few weeks to several months.
      3. You cannot stay behind in US if your L-1 employment has ended. The right thing to do is to leave US and return after getting H-1 visa stamped
      4. Yes, you can try that but it adds another complication. You need to show genuine reason to use this visa and will be then subject to B-1/2 COS approval. Talk to your H-1 attorney before going this route.

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