F1 Students applying H1B visa 2011- Recession Impact and New rules – What are my Options ?

In F1 Visa by KumarUpdated : 36 Comments

With the latest news about change in guidelines and recession still prevailing mildly, it is very tough for F1 Students who planned to graduate and get H1B visa. This article will focus on what are the best options to purse if you are F1 Student and why I think they are good with reasons.  Explains the options for Employment after graduation or during final semester.

New H1B visa guidelines impact for F1 Students pursuing IT Consulting career :

Recently USICS released a memorandum with new set of guidelines for filing H1B visa. With the new set of guidelines, it is going to be very hard for F1 students who wish to pursue a career in IT Consulting. Essentially, the options for applying for H1B visa petition for F1 students are very limited. You cannot go to a small  IT body shop kind of company and file your H1B visa. If you are a F1 Student and wish to apply for H1B visa for 2011 through an IT Consulting Company, you have to choose your employer very carefully. You will have to make sure the company is big enough and have on site implementations, etc. Read the guidelines and clearly stated in the memorandum of employer- employee relationship.

Recession Impact on F1 Students :

Recession has hit very hard on the job situation and not many people are ready to take a risk and sponsor visa for F1 Students. You can see the changes in Cap reach dates for H1B visas from 2004 to 2010 and see the trend explaining the impact of recession of early 2000s.  With the recession many major companies have eliminated the process of hiring H1B visa workers. It is going to be tough to find a full time job in the coming days with less number of companies sponsoring H1B visas. It may not continue long, but at least for now and may be next year, they might stick to their policies of not hiring H1B visa holders.

Options for F1 Students still in School :

If you are a student planning to graduate this year, if you have a possibility to delay your graduation, it is recommended to delay the graduation. May be take one extra class and keep the degree running. Meantime, you can focus on searching for Jobs. You can basically buying time. Your best bet is to focus on Internships and smaller companies. Smaller companies have higher retention rates than big giants in recession.  If you have not used CPT, you should apply for CPT and start looking for internships seriously. If you do not have a choice, then read below on what you can do on OPT.

Options if you just graduated and in OPT :

There are couple of things you can do, first you should look for a full time employment and second you should look for an internship in your area of study. I assume you know that the OPT can be extended for 17 months after an year. If you do not know, read this article on new OPT extension rules and extension up to  29 months. In recession, many companies like to hire interns and coops. Why ?  simple logic, they do not need to give you any benefits.  So, there is high demand for interns in recession. The advantage of you being in OPT is you can apply for all those internships available. It might be hard, but you know “there is no free lunch”. If you can secure an internship at least for the time being before an year, you are good to go for another 17 more months totaling you can be in US for 29 months. Hopefully all the recession is over by then and you can get a better job. You can always keep looking for full time job when you are working in internship too. Just make sure, with the new OPT rules, you should be able to bridge the cap gap. It might be a little hard, but you have to get creative.

What other options can you think of? Any ideas from you all ?


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Comments ( 36 )

  1. Cindy

    Hi Saurabh,

    I have some concerns on H-1B application. I would appreciate very much if you could give some suggestions or opinions.

    My basic situation is: I graduated from Drexel University with MBA/Master of Science degrees in March 2011. The last day of my OPT is April 3rd 2012. Currently I am on my grace period. I have applied for a community college and wanted to transfer my F-1 out of Drexel to that community college. If I get accepted and finish the transfer before the 60-day grace period ends (by June 2nd), I can legally stay in the USA till the school starts on Sept 4th.

    My questions are:
    (1) What are my status during the period of June 3rd-Sept 3rd? Am I on an extended grace period or on an F-1?
    (2) Am I eligible to apply for H-1B during the period of June 3rd-Sept 3rd, if I get a job with a company who is willing to sponsor my H-1B?
    (3) If the answer to question (2) is yes, do I need to leave the USA during the period (June 3rd-Sept 30th), since the H-1B will not be activated until Oct 1st?
    (4) In another scenario, if I transfer my F-1 to an English school (for example, Kaplan), will I have a 60-day grace period after the school program ends?

    I appreciate your time reading my long questions. I look forward to your opinions!


    1. administrator

      1. I don’t know. You will have to check w/ DSO or an attorney
      2. If you are in legal status (based on response to 1), then you can file H-1, else not. However, if filed during the grace period you will be in eligible cap-gap status b/w Jun 3 and Oct 1. But this will change your status to H-1 on Oct 1 and you will have to continue studies on H-1 and not F-1.
      3. If you are not in legal status (based on response to 1), then you should leave US.
      4. I don’t know. You will have to check w/ DSO or an attorney

  2. Oliveira

    I am graduating in May 2012 with my masters in computer science, however, the company I am doing an internship for is going to apply for my H1B under my BS degree, so that they can apply this April 2012. If they use the fast processing application and my h1b gets denied before i graduate, does it cancel my student status?

    1. administrator

      Even when your H-1 gets approved, it will have a start date of Oct 1, 2012 (assuming it is filed and approved w/ COS). So your status would remain F-1 until Sep 30, and then change to H-1 from Oct 1.

      If your H-1 is denied or if COS is not applied, then you will have the usual 60 day period beyond your graduation date to leave US, or you can file for OPT.

  3. Alternate Jones

    I’m currently on an L1. However I was recently laid off and my 30 day grace period ends in Mid March. My question is

    1. If I apply for and get a F1 by Mid March can I convert it to an H1 before the course/degree (for which the F1 was granted) ends ?

    2. If I can apply for a H1 from F1 what are the advantages and disadvantages of transferring status to an H1 from F1 ?

    1. administrator

      Alternate Jones,
      1. Yes, employer can file for H-1 even before your F-1 course ends. However, if USCIS determines that you went on F-1 just so that you have time to file H-1, then they may conclude it as a misuse of F-1 visa and deny your H-1 COS. This may not be a concern if your H-1 is filed after staying on F-1 for at least 90 days (chances of rejection are highest when applying within 30 days and gradually decrease as you spend more time on F-1)
      2. F-1 is a student visa and H-1 is a work visa. That’s the biggest difference. The former allows you to be a full-time student w/ limited work capabilities based on CPT and/or OPT, while the latter is for full-time employment.

      1. Alternate Jones

        Appreciate the instant response. How much time does it generally take to get a F1 visa ? Can you point me to a list of universities where I can get the F1 visa in the fastest possible time ? Can you also confirm if the grace period for an L1 visa holder is 30 days if he has lost his job ?

        1. administrator

          Alternate Jones,
          COS might take around 2 months (not sure). Also, I don’t know of universities that you can target.

          I don’t think there is any grace period. One can stay for reasonable time (say 1-2 weeks) to wrap-up things, book tickets etc. USCIS or consulate can question about this period in future, and then you will have to provide a reasonable response. It’s best to talk to an immigration lawyer to discuss all your options.

          1. Alternate Jones

            Thanks again. Before I talk to the lawyer just wanted to know your take on the following question

            Can I stay on on my L1 status until I find a sponsor for my H1 ?. Staying here, without returning back to my country, will allow me to give in-person interviews and select a genuine software company as my sponsor

          2. administrator

            Alternate Jones,
            IMO, you should not do that. You are right that it gives you more opportunities to give in person interviews and select genuine companies, but once you have been laid off you need to leave US. Maybe the attorney will have more suggestions/options.

            Good luck!

          3. Alternate Jones


            I forgot to mention that I have a valid B1 visa. So if I find an employer/consulting company who is ready to bring me back to US on a B1 Visa and then do a change a status to H1-B, Do you see any issues ?

          4. administrator

            Alternate Jones,
            B-1 should be used only for the purpose of attending meetings, trainings or tourism. Any other use of the visa is a misuse, which USCIS takes very seriously.

            Even if you enter US on B-1 and file for H-1 COS, there are chances that USCIS will question your intent of entering US on B-1 visa. If it is filed within 30 days of entering US, then the chances of rejection are pretty high, and they go down as one continues to spend time in US on B-1 before filing for H-1 COS. It is very much safe after 90 days (but there is no law stopping USCIS from doubting your intent even then).

          5. Alternate Jones

            Let’s say that I enter the US on a B1 Visa on March 20th and my I 94 is valid for 3 months and expires on July 20th. If I apply for a COS to H1 in April, when the H1 quota, is thrown open and let’s assume that the decision on the H1 petition/COS is still pending on July 20th then what are my options ? Can I get my B1 extended ? or Can I still stay on after the B1 expires since the decision on the petition is pending

            Also let’s say that the B1 to H1 COS is approved before July 20th (B1 I-94 expiry date) but since the H1 is valid from 1st Oct 2012 can I continue to stay on in the US but not work/earn ?

          6. administrator

            Alternate Jone,
            IMO, you will have to file for B-1 extension even while your H-1 is pending or has been approved. The reason being H-1 will be approved for Oct 1, and so there is no continuity of I-94 (there will be a break b/w your I-94 expiration date and Oct 1). To be sure, you will have to check w/ an attorney.

  4. cate

    I have an approved H1b and I am already working. However when USCIS approved it in May they rescinded (changed ?) my F1 status to H1 band i did not find out till my ead was denied in September. I was a student and turned in my dissertation in August and was in good standing. Efforts to correct this status issue have been met with slow response from USCIS even though the office has acknowledged the mistake is on their part. I need my H1 stamped so as to be able to travel for work. Is this going to be a problem. if so,,, what documents can i bring with me to supoort my cause ?

    1. administrator

      You mean to say your employer selected consular processing in the I-129 application, and USCIS still approved it w/ COS? It is USCIS’s fault only if your employer filed it w/ consular processing and it was approved w/ COS i.e. I-94 attached at the bottom of 797.

      You mentioned you are already working. So are you getting paid since your H-1 started as per the I-94? If yes, then are you getting paid as per the LCA?

      1. Cate

        Hello Saurabh,
        i am not sure i understand the question. I do not know that they used consular processing for the I-129 does that not go through USCIS ( i believe they ised California office). I do have the I-94 attached to the bottom of the 797. And my H1-b permit was permited to start on Oct 1st so yes i am working.
        I do not lknow what an LCA is .. Sorry. Also my school contacted USCIS to correct the error when the RFE for my opt came but that never happened. Subsequent contact had the USCIS office concerned acknowledge an error according to the university but the record has not been fixed. The uni. is now apparently working with Nafsa for this .
        I am confused about what this could mean for getting my visa stamped , is basically my issue.
        Thank you very much for your prompt reply. Your site has been very helpful.

        1. administrator

          When filing I-129, the employer has the option to mention consular processing (in which case a person’s status would remain F-1/OPT until H-1 visa is stamped in the passport) or COS (in which case a person’s status is changed to H-1). Both options are processed through USCIS. You should ask your employer to see the filed I-129 and see what option was filled.

          If you have been working since October and getting paid as per the LCA (you can get info that from the employer), and have payslips to show the same, then you should be fine during the stamping.

  5. jdk

    If I am planning to do MS in USA for Fall 2012 will i get visa (easily) and will there b any effects of recession on my acceptance rate from US universities??

  6. Sima Helena

    I completed my degree on Sept 15 2010 (thesis defense) and was working on OPT from Sept 16 2010 till Sept 15 2011. I have received an offer from an employer who wants to sponsor my H1B last week – when I already entered my 60-day grace period.
    Once the employer submits an H1B petition with premium processing, do I have to leave the country before my grace period ends and apply for an H1B visa (given the petition is approved) or can I change my status while in the US and stay after the grace period expires?

    1. administrator

      If your H-1 is filed and approved w/ COS, then you can start working on H-1 from the date mentioned in the approval notice. However, you are not eligible for cap-gap. So if your 60 day grace period expires and H-1 hasn’t been approved yet, then you have to leave US. As such it’s better to get your H-1 processed w/ premium processing so that you can receive an early result on your petition.

      1. Sima Helena

        Thank you for your response. I am finding different answers to whether I am allowed to stay in the US (after 60 day grace period ends) while I am waiting for a decision on my H1B petition? Do I get another 60 days to pack and leave the country if the petition is denied? Or do I have to leave the country once the initial 60 days are over?

        According to the definition below, do I qualify for the cap-gap? My petition will be “timely filed”…

        “Which petitions and beneficiaries qualify for a cap gap extension?

        H-1B petitions must be timely filed on behalf of an eligible F-1 student. “Timely filed” means that the H-1B petition (indicating change of status rather than consular processing) was filed during the H-1B acceptance period, while the student’s authorized duration of status (D/S) admission was still in effect (including any period of time during the academic course of study, any authorized periods of post-completion OPT, and the 60-day departure preparation period, commonly known as the “grace period.”)

        Once a timely filing has been made, the automatic cap gap extension will begin and will continue until the H-1B process has been completed. If the student’s H-1B petition is selected and approved, the student’s extension will continue through September 30th unless the petition is denied or revoked. If the student’s H-1B petition is not selected, the student will have the standard 60-day grace period from the date of the rejection notice to prepare for and depart the United States. Students are strongly encouraged to stay in close communication with their petitioning employer during the cap gap extension period for status updates on the H-1B petition processing. A Form I-797, Notice of Action, with a valid receipt number, is evidence that the petition was filed and accepted”

        1. administrator

          You don’t qualify for cap-gap. That comes into picture only when petition was filed prior to 1st Oct, and it allows a person to stay in US (even after OPT has expired) until 1st Oct. As your petition will be filed after 1st Oct, you do not qualify for cap-gap.

  7. Anonymous


    First of all, you guys are doing a phenomenal job of giving accurate/appropriate information to people. Kudos to that!

    I recently graduated from an ivy league college and was placed in one of the Big Four consulting companies. Unfortunately, 3 months later, my company laid me off saying they did not need my skill set anymore and paid me severance of 1 month. Now, my OPT has started ticking and I am a little worried seeing the economy. First of all, I am not sure if I can get a company to process H-1B. My ex-company had sponsored my H-1B but I believe they will soon revoke it.

    I earlier had planned to work on OPT (because I had my H-1B approved as new petition for consular notification) till June (that’s when it expires). Then go to India and get my H-1B stamped. Due to the sudden turn of events, I am at loss as to my travel plans; whether I can apply for extension and immediately travel to India in June or whether I should wait to get my OPT renewed.

    Any suggestion/advice will be helpful.


    1. administrator

      You can have up to 90 days of unemployment on OPT. So you will have to find an employer before you reach that limit, or else you will have to leave US.

      Also, because you have already been approved for H-1, another employer can file H-1 transfer for you (i.e. file new H-1 petition and submit old petition as proof that you have been counted in the quota, and so don’t need to go through numerical cap again). You can work for the employer either on OPT, and later on H-1 (once you get H-1 stamped or get COS approved). Even if the employer revokes the H-1, another employer can still sponsor a cap-exempt H-1 for you based on your past approval.

      Regarding extension, that would come into picture only in June 2012 when your current OPT expires. That may or may not applicable depending upon whether you find new employer on OPT or H-1 or don’t find any employer at all.

      Let me know if you have any questions.

  8. Varda

    I am planning to apply for My masters in Fall 2012 and the recent recession reports have sowed seeds of doubt. Is it safe for me to apply or should i work in india for a year and then apply. I know no one can give a definitive answer but just some advice would be greatly appreciated. Seniors please help..!!

    1. administrator

      IMO education is in an investment which one should look at w/ long term vision. In the short term, spending on education may hurt especially when market indicators are pointing south. But then you also need to see who will be in best position to take advantage of the market once things start improving.

  9. kalpana

    I have my friend who is done with her masters and right now she in opt extension and it will end in june 2012 and she is planning to go India in Jan and come back in march first week and then willing to apply for H1 in 2012 quota.do you think if it is safe to travel during that month bcoz her opt extension will expire in june 2012.Please suggest.

  10. Shri

    Hi Saurabh,
    Thanks for answering my question of not travelling on B2 visa (tourist visa) and then change the status to H1. I had my H1B done when I was on L1 in USA. Now I am in India. But there is another company here which wants to send me to USA on B1 visa (which I already possess) and since it is for 3 months I will be well past the Oct1st date wherein I am officially allowed to work on H1. If the same company asks me to continue staying there on H1B after they make a contract with my employer, is it advisable to change my status? I would be having a valid job on which I would have worked for 3 months and will just continue working if this is allowed. Please let me know your opinion on the same.


    1. administrator

      USCIS can question your intent of entering US on B-1 and then moving to H-1. If USCIS is not satisfied w/ your response, then can deny the COS (although they can still the approve the H-1). You would then have to leave US, get H-1 stamped and enter on that visa.

      Talk to your H-1 employer what they think the response would be if USCIS questions the intent. Unless they have a solid response, it’s better to not go this route. You can consult a lawyer as well to see how easy/difficult B-1 to H-1 is.

  11. zara

    if I completed my associate degree in march 2011 and than havent did nothing uptil today cn i apply for CPT or OPT what would be my status as of today 9thaug 2011

    1. administrator

      Are you on F-1 visa? You cannot apply for CPT as your course has ended. OPT cannot be applied as you are well beyond 60 days of your degree completion.

      Also, one can stay for only 60 days after the end of F-1 course. You have stayed well beyond that duration, and are currently in illegal status (unless you started another degree program). It’s best to discuss your current legal status w/ an immigration lawyer.

  12. Flax


    Extending the OPT by 17 months for STEM means, it wouldn’t apply to MBA grads working in banking, or consulting. Please correct me if I am wrong.


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