Today is October 1st, USCIS fiscal year starts today. If you have applied H1B Visa for Fiscal year 2019, earlier this year during April 2018 and got lucky in H1B visa lottery and have your H1B approved, today is when most of you would start working. Depending on your situation, you may be doing Change of Status (COS) to H1B or enter US on H1B, there are certain things to remember and check today as October 1st, marks beginning of your new journey in a new visa status. We’ll cover all the scenarios below.
F1 Visa Student working on OPT Cap Gap and H1B Not approved – Stop working !
If you are a student on F1 visa status and working on OPT with Cap Gap status, your cap gap status ends on September 30th and you need to stop working after September 30th. OPT Cap Gap provision from USCIS ends on September 30th and you cannot work after that. If your H1B is approved with Change of status, you will be moving to H1B status and will work on that, but if your H1B is pending, you cannot work and need to wait for USCIS to adjudicate your H1B petition. USCIS also highlighted this as a press release on OPT cap gap ending date earlier this week indicating that F1 students in cap gap OPT cannot work from today, October 1st. You should check with your Employer or immigration attorney for your H1B petition status update. You may also check with your DSO to see, if there are any changes in the SEVIS system. You will risk accruing unlawful presence, if you continue to work after September 30th. Read common FAQs on this topic at F1 Student OPT in Cap Gap – H1B Petition Pending – Work after Sep 30th
F1 Students, who applied for H1B – Talk to your DSO, update your Status in SEVIS system
If you are a student on F1 visa status and applied for H1B, you need to update your H1B case current status to DSO. If your H1B petition was approved, pending or denied, you need to inform the same to DSO to make sure SEVIS, SEVP systems are up to date. Some of these things are automatic, but sometimes, there are issues and DSOs need to do ‘Data Fix’, so make sure you update your DSO with your current approval status of H1B Petition.
New H1B Seekers (L1, H4, F1 ) within US applied H1B with COS ( Change of Status)
Many of you living in US might have applied for H1B visa petition with Change of Status (COS). If your H1B petition was approved with COS, you need to start working from today and get paid. Most of the times, the COS is automatic and your H1B petition approval notice would have the new I-94 attached to it. Check with your employer or immigration attorney and get a copy of the approval notice and verify the I-94 date on it. You need to double check, if your petition was applied as Consular processing or COS. If it is COS, it would be automatic and you like it or not, your status has changed to H1B and you need to start working and you need to get paid. Starting today, as you are on H1B status, to maintain proper H1B status (USA Visa vs Status – I94 ) , you need to work and get paid. You need to work with your employer, apply for SSN, if you do not have one and get paid. If you do not want to start working, speak to your employer and attorney and make necessary actions as needed.
H1B Visa Holders entering USA to work from October 1st :
If you do not live in US and have applied for H1B petition with consular processing, you would enter US on H1B visa. You can apply for H1B visa stamping at any US consulate in your country up to 90 days in advance and get H1B Visa stamped on passport. But, you can enter US only 10 days before the start date of H1B, which is October 1st. Read When can you enter US on H1B Visa after Stamping. When you enter US, you will have to go through Port of Entry and have a short interview with CBP officer. You need to carry all the H1B documents and answer all questions. Check Entering US on H1B – Port of Entry Documents, Checklist. Also, check out more questions and answers, experiences added by users Port of Entry Tracker. Make sure you carry phone numbers of your employer/ HR contact people, in case of emergency. Also, once you enter, you will need to talk to your employer and apply for Social Security Number (SSN) at the earliest to get paid. You need to have the SSN letter to start working, your employer can have it in their system as pending. Read Can you start working on H1B without SSN ?. There are also many things you can do at home, if you are entering US for the first time like getting health checks, etc. You can read Entering US for First time on H1B, things to do at home
Overall, October 1st is an important day for H1B holders and you need make sure that you talk to the right people and have all your details updated in all places, so that you can maintain your H1B status. What has been your experience ? Anything that I missed ?