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 : 1315 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 ?


Other Articles

Comments ( 1,315 )

  1. Dinesh

    Hello ,
    I am currently in the US on L1B visa which expires on Sep 14,2020. We just applied for extension with USCIS. As consulates were closed in Canada/Mexico the extension was applied directly with USCIS rather than going for visa stamping. If approved I will get a visa extension 6 months till March 13, 2021 and that will complete my maximum physical stay of 5 years on L1-B.

    My spouse is on an H1B visa and has i-140 approved. so it will give me an option to go on H4 and H4 EAD post March to continue my stay here in US.

    Question :
    1. is it possible to apply for COS to H4 now and put COS effective date as March 14, 2020. ? It will allow me to continue until my L1B exhaust and will not have long disruption as H4 EAD process is taking so much time these days.

    2. As my current L1B extension is in progress , would that cause any adverse impact if I apply for COS to H4 now ? if we apply then there will be 2 applications with USCIS at same time. (L1 Extension and H4 COS).

    1. administrator

      1. Yes, you can do that. It is a smart thing to do.
      2. Usually, when you apply for COS, you should make sure your current status is valid and extended. So, you should apply for the H4 after you get extension approved. It can create confusions if you have two applications pending…

  2. Madhu Nara

    my spouse is planning to apply change of status from F1 to H4 . Can she also apply H4 EAD together or need to apply separately and send the forms separately.
    Can you please also share the steps to apply for H4 and H4 EAD.
    Really appreciate the help

  3. Prashant


    My wife intended to join University in fall 2020 with F1 visa, but since the classes are online we have made change in plans and now she is looking to move from F1 to H4 visa. Can she stay in U.S. without attending classes while I apply for change of status for her from F1 to H4.

    Any help could be greatly appreciated.


    1. administrator

      Usually you need to maintain your current status until the COS is approved. So, if H1B holder is in US and having status, then H4 can stay in US until F1 gets approved.

      1. Prashant

        hi Kumar,
        thanks for your reply. My wife has valid f1 visa but during COS is in process does she has to attend the college ? Can she not go to college ?

  4. Dhruvitkumar Patel


    My wife came to the USA on F2 visa. My h1-b petition got approved one year ago after my wife came to USA and i also applied COS for H4 along with H1-b application, so currently she is on H4 visa. Now she applied to one of the university to start her Master’s degree now I have to put COS from H4 to F1 in USA. I have a question for 2 scenarios.
    1) Put COS from H4 to F1 here in the USA and if I travel to India in January what happen to COS
    2) Wait until January and get stamped in India for F1 visa (I’m not sure i can travel based on the current situation)

    Right now everything is confusing and can you clear my path.

    Would like to hear as sooner as possible.


  5. Mercy Angel

    Angel([email protected])

    Hi,My husbands h1b cap exempt petition is approved and he is in india now waiting for stamping.Due to covid embassy closed he couldnt stamp.Iam in USa for past 2yrs and have valid h1b visa till next year..can i apply h4 for my husband and bring him here.Should i do COS for him?is COS applicable for him?

    1. administrator

      Yes, you can apply for H4 for him. It is going to be H4 visa stamping in India. No need to do anything in US. he will use your approval notice and get stamping.

      1. Anusha

        In this scenario after h4 stamping can he travel on h4 and again apply for change of status to H1 in cap exempt . What are the odds of approval for COS ?

  6. DK

    Hi Kumar,

    I was working on my OPT/STEM OPT for the past 3 years, but all 3 of the H1B petitions filed by my employer for me were not picked in the lottery.
    My EAD expired in end June, I have since been in the 60 day grace period which ends in last week of August for me.
    I got accepted to a masters program in Canada, and wanted to get my Canadian immigration done from here in the US since travelling and flights have taken a hit with the virus, and immigration processing is quicker than in Asia right now (albeit still very slow). And of course, much easier to get to CA from the US than South Asia.

    Can I file for a COS to B2, and if so, how long can I ask for it to be extended till (i.e., is there a recommended length)?
    If I wait long enough for my Canadian study permit to be granted, when I leave the US, will I still have an approved B2 visa for me to come visit friends from Canada later (granted it gets approved, of course)?
    If it is not processed till then and I abandon the COS petition, I am assuming I won’t have a visa, but I can still apply for a B2 visa at some point in the future?


    1. administrator

      Ideally, if you find a way to fly to Canada, you should leave. If no option and there is proof with you, then using that you can apply for B2. Usually you may not hear the decision and it can take long. So, keep all proofs and leave before you hit 180 days. If you are asked in future at Port of entry, show these proofs that you applied during COVID during grace period and could not leave on time.

  7. Shri


    My husband’s H1b had approved last year with consular process and employer helped changing that to H1b COS this year and they also applied my F2 to H4 COS but it’s still in good ending status . Now he got hired to new employer and they are ready transfer his H1b but they say I have to leave country as my F2 to H4 COS is still pending . Can the new employer can apply H4 for me once my husbands H1b is transferred ?

    Please guide

    1. administrator

      Well, technically you do not have to leave the country as your spouse is on H1B and your H4 is pending with USCIS. Worst case scenario, USCIS may ask for your spouse’s H1B approval and you submit the new one for RFE. In general, as your case is pending, there is no status for you and you are in something called as period of authorized stay… They cannot apply for H4 now as you do not have legal status and you are in period of authorized stay.

      1. Shri

        Thanks for your response.

        The new employer is concerned that the current employer might revoke the H4 upon my husband’s resignation and that would make me out of status. Can you please advise if H4 COS can be revoked by the current employer?

        1. administrator

          They cannot revoke or withdraw H4 as it is not tied to the company and to the person.
          But, if you want to be safe, you can apply for an extra H4 again.

  8. Monika

    Hello Kumar/Team,

    My H4 extension is in COS currently and I would like to convert to F1 inorder to be eligible for STEM OPT. My university mentioned I need to be in F1 for atleast an academic year. I am planning to graduate in Spring 2021.

    Do I need to withdraw my H4 extension COS for applying COS for F1? I should file for COS to F1 from H4 now before my fall sem starts. What happens if my F1 COS gets denied.
    Given the processing times of COS , it might take a long time to get the approval verdict and we cant travel to India to get the F1 stamped.

    Please suggest. Thanks in advance.

    1. administrator

      Yes, you are in a very tricky situation. It is hard to get 1 year on F1, if you want the OPT or STEM OPT. The processing times are long….Talk to your DSO and make a decision. Consult an attorney.
      If you can exit the county, get F1 stamping, then it is easier. One option is to delay the studies by a semester, take a semester break. Get F1 stamping done, then re-enter on F1, study for 1 year… Not a straightforward step, but one option… It is your discretion. Also, F1 stamping has its risk as you were on H4 before.

  9. Anna


    I am in OPT now and my OPT will end at the end of September 2020. Due to the pandemic, I will get a new job on August 1. It means I can work for them for 2 months. They ask me what they can do to extend my working permit. They mentioned that they can do sponsorship. But I think it is too late to apply for H1B visa, right? Can you help me with my situation? Can I do anything to extend my working permit now?

    Thank you so much!

    1. administrator

      Yes, you can work for them. Yes, no option to apply for H1B this year. Your next option is to try in March 2021 in H1B lottery.

      1. Sukriti

        Hi Kumar,

        Under covid how’s COS process from H4 to F1 looks like? I couldn’t find anything about mailing documents to USCIS under current process? Has this been changed to completely online process with online document submission? Also, do you have any idea how the current I-539 processing looks like these days?


        1. Pratima

          I have applied COS from h4 to F1 in June, after 3 weeks received receipt, expecting some update in October on i539 n hoping to get my F1.hope this helps

          1. administrator

            Thanks for sharing. Do update here when you get it approved. will help community

        2. administrator

          It will not specify in specific what is required. It is your job to send the relevant docs. No, you can mail in documents.
          The processing times are long..check USCIS processing times. As it is COS, you should check with DSO at school to get the F1 related documents, they will guide you.

          1. Sukriti

            Thanks, Kumar. So physically mailing the documents is a MUST requirement. Even though all relevant documents have been submitted online along with I-539 application. Also, is there going to be a biometric step in this COS?
            My application reads ” We are reviewing your correspondence, and will send you a notice if we need something from you. If you move, go to to give us your new mailing address.” I’m sorry, but I’m confused do I need to mail documents or online submission is good enough? Please advise I’m worried that I mIght have made a mistake 🙁

          2. administrator

            Well, it depends. Physical copies are not mandatory, but you need to keep them handy, if they ask. If the online system accepted your application, then you are fine. Double check with DSO once.
            Yes, if you use form I-539, very likely you will need to give Biometrics as it is the form requirement.

  10. Avani P

    Hi Kumar,
    I have one question about COS from H1B – F1
    1) I have valid F1 visa stamp for *** university which expires June 2021
    2) Currently, I am on my H1B and hence my SEVIS ID for F1 stamp is no longer active

    My Question – I have admit from a different school starting this fall for a PhD program. In order for me to get started on F1 visa, what all options I have?

    Is COS only option available?
    Or can I study full time on H1B?

    Thank you

    1. administrator

      Your passport stamp of F1 is not relevant when you are in US, it is only for entry to US. You need to file COS from h1B to F1.
      You may not be able to start until the F1 COS is complete, usually schools do not allow you start. Check with DSO and see, if their policy allows you to start before COS.
      Yes, COS is your only option, if you want full time.
      Now, you can study full time and also work full time on H1B. As long as you are working, maintaining status and taking full course load, you can study on H1B too…

  11. Gurunath balloli

    Current Scenario: My spouse is in the USA on H1b Visa & changed Job recently to different employer, so her H1b transfer and extension is approved till Jan 2022. I am in India with H4 Visa stamped with old employer till Sept 15 2020 and also my current H1b out of cap is filed in consular mode in regular processing(Not premium). I am planning to travel to USA on H4 stamped visa before sept 15th. I have below questions, can you please help & suggest the below options?

    1. Can we do the COS from H4(stamped) to H1(already approved) in premium processing?

    2. My current H1b is filed in Consular mode in regular processing(NOT premium), can i upgrade it to premium processing along with COS(h4 to H1) after landing in USA and start working within a month if approved?

    1. administrator

      1. Yes, you can. It is suggested you do that after you enter US. It will be assessed as a new application.
      2. Maybe possible… Check with your attorney on this.

  12. Rahul

    Hi Kumar

    My wife is on L1A visa and I am currently on L2 EAD. Her project is ending on 7/1/2020 but her i-94 is valid till 4/1/2021. Since we cannot leave US due to covid, her company is applying for change of status to B2.

    Can I continue to work with my company on L2 EAD till her change of status is approved to B2 or do I need to stop working as soon as the change of status is applied for?


  13. supriya

    I am person who studied in USA, had H1 , then OPT. My H1 did not get picked all three times so my company shifted me temporarily to canada. Then I applied for h1 again and this time it got picked and approved. But unfortunately trump is banning all new immigrants , so I cant get my visa stamped.
    But on bright side I already have a H4 visa.
    Is it possible to go to country on H4 and apply COS? from H4 to H1 using my already approved H1B?
    Thank you!

    1. Rahul

      Hi Kumar

      My wife is on L1A visa and I am currently on L2 EAD. Her project is ending on 7/1/2020 but her i-94 is valid till 4/1/2021. Since we cannot leave US due to covid, her company is applying for change of status to B2.

      Can I continue to work with my company on L2 EAD till her change of status is approved to B2 or do I need to stop working as soon as the change of status is applied for?


  14. Prajakta B

    I am on H4 visa. And I want to apply for COS to F1 Visa for Fall 2021.
    When should I apply for COS from H4 to F1?
    Currently i have applied for H4 extension.

    1. Kushal

      Hi Prajakta,

      My wife is on H4, She wants to convert her status to F1. Her i94 is valid until Aug 2022, As COS is taking lot of time, we still have not filed COS. Getting COS approved before Spring 2021 classes is difficult. Can we file COS for Fall 2021 ? Could you please help?

      1. administrator

        You can definitely file it for sure. But, the trick is you be able to maintain your current status of H4 until then and your school honoring your change in program. Discuss with your DSO and plan.

  15. MJ


    I am on H1B visa and recently got laid off because of COVID situation. My 60 days are ending on 4th Aug 2020. I am planning to file COS from H1 to B2 a week before my 60 days end i.e. 28th Jul 2020 if I do not get a suitable offer. I have following questions:
    1. If my COS application is pending and I get an offer during the time, do I need to wait for the approval of the COS application to move back to H1B status?
    2. If the answer to the above question is “Yes”, Can I revoke the COS (H1B to B2) application to avoid the waiting period and file a petition for H1B transfer?

    1. administrator

      1. Yes, you need COS to be approved.
      2. No, you cannot. The reason is you need valid status to get COS approved. When you apply for COS and it is pending, you are in period of authorized stay and you do not have proper legal status.

  16. Raj


    I’m Raj, i’m on L1B visa and my visa is expiring on Aug 2022. My wife is on H1B visa, her visa extension is in process. Her i-94 was expired on Dec 2019 and her 240 days of work authorization is coming to an end in July end.

    Is she eligible to apply for COS from H1B to L2 now when she is waiting for her extension response?


    1. administrator

      Now, she may or maynot be able to, as she is not in valid status as such and in period of authorized stay. Talk to your attorney on this.

  17. Prasanna


    My H1B expires next year May 31st,2021. I got admission for Masters from Fall 2020. Due to current covid situation, I cannot travel overseas for stamping. In this case can I apply for Change of status and still reap the benefits of F2 like on campus job , assistanship. The university says I cant reap the benefits of H1 until my Change of status is approved. Please clarify.

    1. administrator

      Yes, that is correct. You need F1 to be approved to be able to use that benefits. It can take a long time for F1 COS to be done. check USCIS website.

  18. Pratima

    Hi Kumar, I am applying for f1 cos from h4, I will be graduating MS by spring 2021, what if my change of status happens in December? Again I have to submit bank statements for new i20? Along with bank statements do I need to submit any supporting documents for f1? Please advise

    1. administrator

      It is very hard to say, the processing times for F1 COS are really long as per USCIS site. You need to discuss with your DSO and plan this out on the options.
      Yes, you need to submit bank statements and funds as you will be on F1 and not a dependent visa. You will need to submit your I-94 and other status details. Discuss with your DSO and then plan it out.

  19. DS

    I am currently on H4 visa and planning to apply for COS. Classes start in Aug 2020 and my I-94 expires on 11/30/2020. If the COS does not get approved before the classes start, the university told that they will move the program start date to spring 2021 in I-20. How can I bridge this gap? If the apply for H4 extension after applying for COS, will the last rule action put me on H4 again?

    I planned to go for visa interview but cancelled because of this COVID situation. Please help how to avoid going out of status.

    1. administrator

      This is a tricky situation… I am not sure, if there are many options. I suggest you discuss with an attorney to see, if something exists.

    1. administrator

      You may only be able to pay the I-539 related fee with biometrics fee. The SEVIS fee, you should check with DSO. In general, if you are doing COS, I am not sure, if it applies when you are in US…Check with DSO and then proceed.

  20. Juberia


    I am currently on F1 Visa and have completed my 1st master( I completed my initial OPT and got denied on STEM OPT as i used old I765-FORM) then joined 2nd Master’s. and then enrolled in CPT in 2nd semester.

    My H1 got picked this year and my company is filling . My wife is on F2 Visa she is in USA.

    My question is Do i need to file my spouse H4 along with my H1 so that she doesn’t go out of status.

    1. If my COS is denied and CP is approved , will my Spouse H4 COS will be denied to, if so she will be out of status.

    2. will my H1b approved and COS be approved

    please let me know TIA.

    1. administrator

      Yes, you should, if you want her to be your dependent after October 1st.
      1. Hard to say, very likely because she is using your F1 status as primary.
      2. No one knows…It is very hard say without knowing the case.

  21. Sam

    Hello Experts.

    H1B withdrawal on feb 2020 and did not find any employer yet for H1 transfer.
    What if my friend stays in USA and will be going to marry US citizen , although she pass 60 days grace period and planning to marry in future after 3 to 4 months . Please provide valuable information whether she can stay here or go back to home country.

    1. administrator

      If they have applied for B2 COS within 60 days after losing H1B job, then they continue to be in status… if so, there will be less or no issues…if not, then need to take swift action and leave the country.

  22. rafi

    Hello Kumar,

    I have some questions regarding COS from H1b to B2. Currently my H1b 6 years will be expire on 02-June-2020. My I-140 petition is pending with USCIS. if i apply for COS from H1b to b2 before I94 Expiry.
    1. after applying COS from H1b to B2, if my I140 is approved. i need to go back to India for H1b stamping to continue work in USA?
    2. if COS B2 is denied, what are the consequences i need to face/ is there any impact on my future Visa stampings.
    3. After B2 is approved, then only i can apply for H1b extension with I140 approval.

    1. administrator

      1. Well, I am not sure…discuss with an attorney.
      2. Well, it will not impact future, you need to leave on time.
      3. Usually yes, that’s when you get your status back to apply for COS, if you can do so.

        1. administrator

          No, you cannot file any petition with USCIS, when you have B2 pending as you would not have proper legal status. You need valid status to do anything…Discuss with your employer.

  23. Al

    Hey Kumar,

    Was hoping to get your insight on my situation.

    I’m under H1B and my employment was terminated on March 1. I know I have 60-day grace period, which means that my lawful status expires on roughly May 1. I have a COS to B2 pending with USCIS since April 2.

    I will be departing the US on June 30. If my application with USCIS is still pending on June 30 and is considered abandoned/void when I depart, does that mean that I have been accruing unlawful presence since May 1 until June 30?


    1. administrator

      Well, technically you did not accrue any unlawful presence, as you filed for B2 COS within 60 days grace period. While the grace period is discretionary, with current situation, it should be fine. You were in period of authorised stay on paper… If you depart, nothing will happen. Just retain the documentation and everything for your reference, if they ask at port of entry or in future, you need to show them that you were in proper status.

  24. Gaurav

    My wife is on L2 and her h1 got picked up in lottery last month. However I might need to travel to India urgently after Covid is over (probably in July). Can she stay while COS is in progress ?

    1. administrator

      If you are just going to India for short break and coming back to US on L1, then it should be fine. If you are not coming back on L1 for longer duration, then she cannot stay.

      1. Gaurav

        Thanks kumar, So when can I travel for a longer period. Will that be dependent only on Cos whether that is approved/denied ? Also

        1. administrator

          These are all subjective and can be tricky…If USCIS asks to send your status documents and you are not in country and your employer does not have paystubs running, it will be misrepresentation of information. So, discuss with attorney and plan…

  25. L1a to H1B

    Need urgent help. I have L1A upto August 2021. I got H1B this year. Our attorney told me since my 6th year on L1A complete on August, 2020, not by oct 1st, 2020. So, I need to out of country for 1 month before they filled H1b I129. I asked how can I move now from US due to COVID? No answer from them. I have approved I140 also in EB2.PLEASE guide me how can I get H1b?

    1. administrator

      L1a to H1B,
      I wish I had an answer, it is a very difficult situation. Talk to another attorney, but I am afraid, the options are very few..

      1. L1a to H1B

        Some times it looks like my attorney try to be very safe side. Do you have any other option please let me know. Is there any rule USCIS mentioned about this. One of my colleagues have L1A date same as me his H1B picked his 5th. He did not have I140 aproved yet. HE GET H1B validity upto L1A validity. Please guide me if you know anything detail..


        1. administrator

          L1a to H1B, I will always suggest to go with attorney advice. Better safe than sorry. You can talk to another attorney and get guidance.. I wish I can answer…

      2. Majue

        Hi Kumar,
        I’m currently on H1b, my I-94 expiration date is 09/04/2021, I got an offer for a master degree starts this summer so I need to change to F1. My questions are:
        1. Can I start my school while COS is pending?
        2. Further more, if I decided to file COS to F1 and B-2 bridge at the same time (consider the long process time) can I quit my job after I file the COS to F1 and B-2 bridge, and keep studying in school? Do I need to maintain my H1 for the entire time while COS is pending? Thanks a lot!

        1. administrator

          1. Well, technically you cannot. The reason is, what if USCIS denies, then you have no status and your student status at school would be deemed out of status. You need F1 approval to start studying.
          2. I do not think it will work. If you can maintain H1B until F1 COS is approved, then it would be ideal…
          You need to discuss with your DOS and make the decision. Check DHS Guidance on

      3. HR1

        Hi, Similar situation:
        I am on L1B visa, expiring end of Aug,2020. I have an approved H1B I-797 from last year, which I never used.
        I have requested company’s legal to file COS to H1B (California service center) and they claim it takes 8+months, considering no PP. They also mentioned that if an RFE is issued, then the chances of approval prior to L1B/I94 expiry is meagre and that I have to leave country by L1B/I94 date( end of Aug).
        They recommended to file L1B extension to recapture 1-month period and then leave country for visa stamping.

        My queries:
        1. Is it true that if COS is filed, and if not approved by I94 date, that I have to leave country?
        2. What are the current processing times for COS from L1 to H1B at california? I have been seeing superfast turnaround emails and not sure how to convince legal to take that approach
        3. With backlog of people at India, homecountry, awaiting visa consulates to open, I am not optimistic to find any apppointment if I leave
        4. With rumors of proposed travel ban on H1B entries, the option recommended by legal, sounds to be non-feasible at all.
        5. Can I goto Canada for first-time H1B stamping if feasible? Again my legal stricked out that option, forcing me to leave for India only

        1. administrator

          1. You dont have to leave the country, but you cannot work as your L1 would expire.
          2. Check USCIS website, you will be able to some rough timelines…yes, they are really long depending on location.
          3. Yes, that’s a valid point.
          4. Well, sometimes, it can be difficult, but may you need to consider their advice…
          5. Usually, COS is not recommended…If you had extension, should have been fine..
          Always work with your attorney and if in doubt, check with another attorney and then take an informed decision.

  26. Nithya

    I’m Nithya. My husband have approved H-1B extension till 2022. My H4 and H4 EAD is still in process. We filed it October 2019 before I94 expiry. In December, I94 got expired and now the process is very slow. In August, the 240 day limit after filing for extension is going to end.
    1) can’t I stay after August, if my petition is not approved by that time?
    2) can I file for B2 visa to maintain the status before August?
    3) If I can file B2, what’s the time limit To stay in status after the COS petition is filed ? What will happen to my H4 extension and EAD petition?

    1. administrator

      There is no 240 days limit. It only applies for H1B extenions to continue working. Read 240 days rule H1B
      1. You can stay and wait.
      2. No need to file anything as you are still waiting for the approval and you filed it on time.
      3. No need as your spouse is on H1B and in valid status.
      Until you have a decision you can wait. You will be in period of authorized stay

  27. Nanda

    Question on COS from F-1 to H1B/H4

    Currently, my spouse is on F-1 expiring Apr 2021
    Can the employer apply for H1B with COS as well as my spouse can apply for H4 COS too ?

    If both application is submitted together while in F-1, What happens if approval for H4 COS first ? Then, will the current status of ‘F-1’ on H1B application becomes void ?

    1. administrator

      It will go by the last action rule. Whichever comes last, that will be effective one. So, this can be very tricky and not recommended. Discuss with attorney and try to do the one that works for your situation.

  28. Priya

    Hi Kumar,

    Thanks for helping out people here. Currently my H1B petition got approved on Consular processing in 2019 November, due to my kid birth i cannot travel last year. This year i have booked for Visa Appointment, due to COVID-19 travel and visa appointment’s are closed.

    My company agreed to do COS here from USA itself due to travel restrictions, however currently am still in F1 VISA and my step OPT expiring in July 7th. Will i be able to work post July7th, given my COS petition will be filed with in that time frame ? or i cannot work after July 7th. My F1 Visa, I94 also will be expiring by that date i guess. Usually for cap Gap petition we can stay when H1B petition is pending, not sure for this condition.

    Not sure if the company will file an amendment of the existing petition or how they will do it. If you can help clarify both the query and possible option it would be great. Thanks


    1. administrator

      No, you will not be able to work post July 7th as you may NOT have approval notice in hand by then. You will be in period of authroized stay and can be in the country, but cannot work. The reason is you will need valid h1B approval to start working as it is a COS.

      1. Priya

        Thanks kumar. I have few more follow up query.

        1. Can i travel outside the country and wait in india when the H1B COS is pending with USCIS and when its approved can i book visa appointment and apply for stamping and re enter ?

        2. Also can i still use the consular H1B approved petition at a later date and once the Consulate reopen’s i can apply for visa appointment and return ?

        If both 1 and 2 work’s, Applying for visa appointment with Consular processed petition is better or new H1B COS [without consular processing] is better ?

        What are the Odd’s of getting rejected when we apply for H1B COS from H1B Consular approved petition. Thanks.


        1. administrator

          1. yes. But, your COS will be abandoned, if you travel out, when COS is pending…As you already have approval, it may not be needed, if it is same job, etc. Check with your company and their attorney.
          2. yes, as long as you have H1b approval valid and the job is available for you.
          Yes, it maybe a better idea, it will speed up your option to work.
          It is hard to say the odds, it all depends on your case and how you have maintained status…Discuss with your attorney.

  29. Sam

    Hi Kumar
    My spouse’s H1b visa expires ( maxes out) on 4th June, 2020 ( I94 expiry date), I have an approved i-140. Travel to India is not open yet, what would be best option for her:
    1. Option 1; Apply for H4 COS and H4 EAD together in next two weeks, if travel to India opens, My spouse travels to India by may end. Will it mean abandonment of H4 COS and Denial of the same? Or does it mean, the approval may still come in but My spouse has to enter to USA with a stamped h4 visa in order to not impact h4 ead approval process?
    2. Option 2: Apply for H4 COS and H4 EAD together in next two weeks. If travel ban is not lifted , my spouse’s current employer will file for H1 extension on humanitarian ground ( to make sure My spouse in not out of status). If H1 extension is not approved, My spouse will still not be out of status due to pending H4COS and may have to talk with employer for Leave with out pay or may be resignation.Once H4 application is approved( while waiting in USA) , my spouse waits for H4EAD approval.

    Please advise which option would be better( given that My spouse would like to continue working as long possible, either in USA or in India)


    1. administrator

      1. it will be likely COS denial along with EAD denial, but once you get stamping in India, then you can enter using visa stamp… Check Travel out of US with H4 Pending.
      2. I am not sure, if this would work as it is more about regulation and so far USCIS has not given any concession.
      This is a tough situation, hard to say which is best… Talk to your attorney and plan it out…

  30. Vr

    Hello Kumar,

    My wife is working on h4 ead which has validity till July 2021.
    Same employer filed for her H1 b in April 2019 but she had to go out of country in september 2019 for 2 weeks and return date was in september 2019 itself on H4.
    Now h1 got approved in April 2020 along with COS with new i94 till sep 2022.
    1. is she on h1b status now as we assumed COS would be denied because of outside travel and status would remain as H4?
    2.Can she go out /reenter on H4 and use the h4 ead tied to that H4 till its validity?

    Thanks for your help!!

  31. Vincent Chang

    Hi, wondering if it is possible to file for COS from H1B to B2 on my own (not my employer), and if I-539 would be the right form to be used.

    Thank you.

      1. Vincent

        Thank you.

        I have a couple of follow-up questions:
        1. Do I have to already have the B2 visa in my passport when I apply for the COS?
        2. What happens if my current H1B status expires before I receive a decision from the USCIS, and eventually the USCIS denies my application-
        a) How many do I have to leave the US?
        b) What is the implication/consequences of being “out-of-status”? I understand that I will not be accruing unlawful presence that would bar me from entering the US for a period of time, but what about an “out-of-status”?

        Thank you again.

          1. vincent

            Hi Kumar,

            Thanks again for your help.

            I understand that if you leave the US while your COS application is pending, your COS application will automatically be abandoned. My question is: if my H1B was terminated on May 1 and have a COS application pending with the USCIS, but I depart the US on June 1 did I accure unlawful presence in the US from May 1 to June 1?

            Thank you.

          2. administrator

            No, if you were on H1B, you technically get about 60 days grace period. You could use that provision…Also, you ad COS pending, so you were in period of authroized stay, you should be fine

  32. Adela

    Hi there, I am in OPT stem period and it ends next month, but I am 7-month pregnant. Can I apply for extension or any other ways?

    Thank you!

  33. Anjali


    I maxed out my H1B on 03/20/2020 and applied for COS to H4 on 03/12/2020.
    I got the biometrics request so I am planning to apply H4-EAD.
    What will come in 25th point in I765 form? (Your Current Immigration Status or Category (for example,
    B-2 visitor, F-1 student, parolee, deferred action, or no
    status or category).
    I don’t have H4 approval yet.


    1. administrator

      In general, you need to maintain your previous status before the new status kicks in…You would usually put it as H1B as that was your previously known status. They would ask you to prove your status sometimes in RFE, so I suggest you talk to attorney to be sure.

  34. Krishna

    I am on H1 with 6 years maxout on 6/15/2020. My employer filed I140 petition on 3/20/2020 in normal processing(the intention was to be in premium processing but it was suspended).
    My wife has a L1 which is valid until Apr2021.
    what are my options now?
    1.Can i file for L2 and stay in the US with receipt notice? How long/until when should i be able to work on H1 in this case?
    2.If USICS allows premium processing’s on I140, it may take up 2 months for me to get back on H1.What happens if i get my H1 in Aug 2020 and my L2 is still not approved yet? what happens to the stay between 6/15/2020 to Aug 2020?

    1. administrator

      1. Yes, that is an option to switch to L2.
      2. Well, the timing is a difficult thing with pending applications. Discuss with your attorney on how best to do it. One option is you can exit the country and re-enter to cancel the processing of other and submit the withdraw as well.

      1. Krishna

        Thanks for your reply Kumar.
        I have a followup. Which one is easier? COS from H1 to L2 here in US or going to india and getting L2 stamped?

        1. administrator

          Well, it depends. Easier is getting stamped. If you apply for COS, it can be a long wait and you may not travel during the pending time…

  35. Markand

    I am on H1B visa until October 2020 (but I never went back to stamp it) and my company is currentLy filing for my H1B extension. However, I am planning to get my MBA in the fall of 2020. My current employer has also filed for my GC process.
    I intend to apply for COS to F1. As far as my research goes, I need to follow the steps below:
    1. Withdraw my GC application
    2. Secure funding
    3. Get my new I20
    2. Apply for COS

    I just want to know if I am missing something or I need to do anything differently, also the fact that I never stamped my H1B will it affect any of the steps involved.

  36. Grace Lee

    Hi, I’m trying to do a COS from F-2 to F-1. My husband is on F-1 and his current studies will end this semester (Apr 23), even though the program end date on the I-20 is Aug 23. He wants to leave the country to start working back home, while I stay and wait for my COS. I believe, since I’m currently in status and will apply for the COS while in status, I should be able to stay while my husband left. However, my school’s DSO said the regulations have changed and my husband must maintain his status while my COS is pending. Is this true? Can anyone verify if our F-2/F-1 needs to be maintained while COS is pending???

    1. administrator

      It is going to be slightly tricky, as your DSO said…the reason is your status is dependent on your Spouse’s status, as you are dependent on his status. Until you get COS approved, you need to maintain your previous status. You cannot take it for granted that you will get F1 approved. Imagine, your F1 COS is denied, then your status becomes invalid as your spouse is not on F1…Always, take the advice of DSO.

  37. Vijet

    Hi Kumar, firstly, thanks for answering so many questions for everyone!
    Here’s mine 🙂
    My premium processing H1B extension petition received an RFE on Feb 5.
    Lawyers responded to the RFE on Feb 25.
    It’s been 10 days since then, and I haven’t received a result yet.

    My question is about my options in case of denial –
    My I-94 expires on March 31.
    I’m trying to avoid exiting the country in order to get H4.

    Scenario 1: H1B extension denied before March 31

    I can apply for a new H1B petition but can’t work after March 31
    I can apply for H4 COS (spouse is on H1B)
    I apply for both H1B and H4 COS. If H1B is approved later, I withdraw the H4 application. If H1B is denied again, I can wait for H4.
    Scenario 2: H1B extension denied before March 31

    I don’t want to exit the country to get H4. Hence I apply for H4 COS before March 31, and if H1B is approved later, I withdraw the H4 application.
    Apply for another H1B petition after March 31 and hope it gets approved.
    Can you people provide me with your expert opinions on my best course of action here?
    I want to be prepared for the worst case scenario, but also want to avoid accruing illegal stay.

    Thank you for reading.

    1. administrator

      You have to apply for H1B as transfer before your I-94 expires, so that you do not end up in bridge situation. You may consider applying for H4 as well, but the issue is with long processing times, the timing can be tricky. H4 stamping is relatively safe, so nothing to worry, you can go to Canada or Mexico and get it done. You need to wait for long time with biometrics, if you apply for COS and need to do it before March 31st. Discuss with an attorney on the timing.. There is no perfect thing, you have to take some by gut feel and go with the risk associated with it.

  38. Soudip

    Hello Kumar,

    I have valid H1B Visa till April 4th, 2020. This date marks the last day of my 6 years stay in the US on H1B. I have also got H4 EAD approved, but with start date from April 8th, 2020.

    I now know that I would have to travel outside the US for the ‘in between’ period ? In other words I would be considered out of status from April 5th to April 8th if I don’t stay out of the US for these days.

    In case I leave the US what would be your advice on which country could be a sound choice to get my H4 Visa stamped before returning back ? Choices include neighboring countries like Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, or all the way to India.

    I don’t have a Canadian visa. Do I have enough time to take the risk of applying Canadian tourist Visa (and temporarily part with my passport in the process) owing to the fact I only have a little over a month before my I94 expires ?

    Thanks much,

    1. administrator

      You can go to Mexico or take a cruise…Fly to any country that has visa free entry for you…Talk to your attorney before you plan anything..

  39. Fatima

    Thank you for the reply! There is one more thing I wanted to know. Does this change of status affect travelling to adjacent countries? Like if I wanted to visit Canada do I have to get F2 stamped before coming back to the USA or is it only for my home country?

    1. administrator

      Any country, if you going to get a New I-94, when you exit and re-enter…unless you use Automatica Revalidation…Talk to your attorney on the Automatic revalidation part, to be sure before you travel.

  40. Neha Narang

    Excellent Article. However, could you please also elaborate on whether the current visa category status (for example H1B) needs to be maintained in the duration between filing for COS (for example to H4) and before getting the decision (assuming decision is approval).

    To put it simply, do you need to work in the time you are waiting for the COS decision for H1B to H4.


    1. administrator

      You are right, it is your duty to maintain your previous/current status, until you hear on the other status…You cannot move to other status as soon as you apply, you need to wait for it to be approved. Yes, for your example, yes they need to work on H1B until H4 is approved or at least until the end of the H1B status.

  41. Khushboo

    Hi Saurabh

    I got my H4 approved in Sept 2019 and it is valid until Dec 2021. I went to India and got my H4 stamped and returned back to US on Jan 15. After returning back my H1-B extension got approved on Jan 30th. Now, I am looking for changing jobs and my new employer is suggesting that I can travel outside the country and reactivate my H4 – that ways I can join my new company and they will file a new H1 petition for me.

    Is this a valid scenario?

    1. administrator

      Was that approved with COS ?
      yes, you can travel out and re-enter to come back to H4 status. yes, they can apply for H1B transfer and COS as well using that…

      1. Khushboo

        Yes H1B was a COS. What I am worried about is that my H4 might have been invalidated due to the H1B approval .. will I have a problem at the border since the most recent I-94 is for h1b.
        Will they not ask for a new H4 stamp if I want to re enter in H4 status?

      2. Khushboo

        Yes my H1B was approved with COS. My current company’s lawyers are saying the H4 visa has been invalidated too, but new company lawyers are saying it is perfectly fine to re-enter on H4. Confused who to trust now.

        1. administrator

          Seek another second opinion and go for it. If you are really worried, just go back home and go for dropbox and then try to re-enter…

  42. SD

    Hi All,

    I am currently on H1 and it is valid till May 2020. My Maxout is Sep 2020. My current employer has filed for H1 extension for the duration of May 2020 to Sep 2020 and the extension is pending decision with USCIS, the case status shows “Case Was Received”
    My husband is on H1 till 2022,and I would like to convert to H4 effective after my Maxout in Sep 2020.

    1) Can I file the I539 COS while my current extension is pending with USCIS
    2) If I need to wait for my current extension to be approved, how many days before my Maxout do i need to start my I539 COS from H1 to H4
    3)Can I file I539 COS from H1 to H4 with an effective date in future ?
    4) Can I continue to stay in US on a pending I539 COS H1 to H4 decision after my H1 visa gets over ?

    1. administrator

      1. yes, you can with a future date.
      2. You should apply anytime now as the h4 processing takes a long time with Biometrics.
      3. Yes
      4. Yes, if you file on time before the I-94 expires and your max out period.

  43. Avani


    I am on my H1 (stamping not done in India). I am starting my PhD in August 2020. I am confused on the steps that I have to do for Change of Status process.
    Can you please guide me?

    Also, is it recommended to visit India for F1 stamping before I start my school in August?

    Thank you

    1. administrator

      It is a good idea to get Stamping done in Home country. The biggest reason for getting stamping is that F1 stamping can be tricky for you as you had H1B in the past. You are moving from a dual intent visa to Non-immigrant visa. So, if you get stamping done in India, then you will be sure that you can travel freely and have no issues in future with your travel.
      If you go for COS in US, then if in 5 years, anytime you leave the country, you need stamping and your program and education maybe at risk, if you do not get F1…so, it is better to get it sorted out before you start the program…

      1. Avani

        Hi Kumar,

        Thank you for answering my question.

        To understand things correctly, after I receive my I-20 for my PhD school, before the program starts in August 2020, I go to India and get my F-1 stamp for the PhD program, that way I do not have to worry anytime in the next 5 years?

        Also, since I never got my H1-B stamped, the question of interviewing for H1-B does not arise as I will have my F-1 I-20.

        Please let me know if my interpretation is correct.

        Appreciate your help.


        1. administrator

          Yes, your understanding is correct. It may or may not, but it does not matter as long as you have maintained proper status.

    1. administrator

      Yes, you should apply for it and attach the reports indicating your situation. Talk to your H1B attorney and then plan it. Apply for it soon, before I-94 expires.

  44. RAHUL

    I have a question. I am on F1 OPT. My wife was on F1 but got her status change to F2 (approved) here in the USA. Now she is planning to go to India. Will she be requiring stamping.?
    If yes, then does she needs to just submit a passport at the application center or she has to appear for an interview as well.? Please advise

    1. administrator

      If she has to re-enter US on F2, she will need the visa stamping in her passport. She would have to appear for interview. Usually F2 stamping are tricky, be aware of that, before you step out.

        1. Rambhia

          Oh nice! That was quick. Which processing center was it?
          My wife’s application has been stuck in California center since last 8 months 🙁

  45. Rambhia

    Hi Kumar,

    My wife’s COS from B2 to F2 has not been processed since last 8 months. When we check the date on the USCIS website, the date keeps fluctuating. Currently, the date has passed our application date and we can request for a status.

    But the status reply is we need to wait more for any decision. Is this a red flag for COS?

    Also, my spouse wants to travel to our home country. Is it okay to leave the country when she doesnt have a visa status?

    Will applying again for F2 in home country create any issues?


    1. administrator

      It is hard to say, the COS can take very long for F2. Not necessarily red flag, it is hard to say…
      Going for Stamping for F2 is always risky, many users say that it is tough to get F2 stamping and has more risk of rejection…
      If you travel out of the country, to re-enter there is a need for F2 visa to re-enter…so, be aware of that…Talk to DSO and raise an expedite request, if it is past the processing time.

  46. faluk

    Hi Kumar,

    I am currently on H4 and planned to go for COS to F1 as I got admit for MS.In support of funding can the bank attested copy stating I have xxx amount of funds in my account be enough or is it mandatory for me to submit 3 months statement.
    Kindly suggest!

    Thank you

  47. Raj

    Hi Kumar!

    I was on OPT and my spouse on F2. My h1 got approved on Jan 24th 2020. For my spouse,I need to apply COS to h4 but I did not receive the approval documents from USCIS yet. How long do I have to apply for my dependent’s COS? While I am waiting for the documents, Is the gap between my approval and COS submission is considered out of status? Please advise.

    Thank you!

    1. administrator

      You should apply as soon as you receive the approval notice. Ideally, you should have applied it in concurrent…This is slightly grey area, hard to say how USCIS would look at it….they usually consider the date you got the physical notice…Talk to your H1B attorney and take care of it immediately.

  48. dongya

    I am L2, and my wife is L1, and my kid L2. My wire was noticed to be fired 1 month.

    Can I change to F1 vise as soon as possilbe?

    There is college giving me I 20 soon, and if L visa expired, can we stay here and applying the F1 and F2 status?

    Thank you.

    1. administrator

      Yes, you may apply for Change of Status. Discuss with DSO at the school and apply for it immediately. Factor in the delays and time taken for COS as it can take a long time…

    2. Zubeda Osheen

      Hello! My husband is on F1 visa and I changed my status from F1 to F2 four years ago. I am planning to leave for India. My USCIS approval paper says I need to get visa stamped if I get a new visa.
      Does that mean should I have to submit my passport for F2 visa to be stamped or should I have to give an interview at the consulate to be able to fly back to USA?

      1. administrator

        Yes, you will need a valid visa stamp of F2 to re-enter US. You need to apply for Visa and go for interview in your country and then enter using the stamp…You need to aware the risks of stamping as well.

Leave a Comment

Comments Policy :
  • Comments are to drive conversation, add your thoughts, experiences, ask questions!
  • Do NOT write hate speech, swear words, or get into fight. Maintain etiquette
  • Enter your Name, valid Email, URL(optional - Facebook, LinkedIn profile URLs).
  • Your email will NOT be published. Do NOT post any phone numbers, email-ids
  • Do NOT post any links from other websites, unless official sites, University websites.
  • By submitting your comment, you agree to Term and Conditions of our website.