F1 to H1B visa Change of Status

Process of F1 to H1B Visa change of Status. OPT Rules, Planning – Tips

In F1 Visa by KumarUpdated : 647 Comments

One of the most important things for an international student on F1 visa studying in America is to find an employer and get H1B visa sponsored.  As you know, F1 students are often impacted by the New H1B rules and Recession, changing from F1 to H1B visa can be tricky and it is a good idea to plan everything ahead of time like OPT       after graduation and H1B sponsorship. I will try to explain the typical process involved for converting from F1 to H1B and key things to keep in mind during the change of status.

F1 Visa – OPT Planning :

Some of you might have worked on CPT (Working OPT Vs CPT ) and may be planning on applying OPT to work after graduation, but some of you may not have had CPT at all. Either case, you should apply for OPT to be eligible to work after graduation until you find a potential H1B Sponsor and get the H1B visa petition filed. You file using form I-765 and work with your International Student Advisor or DSO(Designated School official ), who will give you a new I20 and update SEVIS about your OPT. You will file the OPT for employment authorization by paying necessary fee. You can apply for OPT up to 90 days prior to completion of your program i.e, the graduation date. Suppose you forget to apply on time, you have 60 days grace period to apply after program date. This is very risky and not recommended as it gets much complicated. So, do NOT delay and apply for OPT before you graduate. Anyways, once you file OPT, you will get an EAD or OPT Card. Check : Sample OPT or EAD Card

MS, CPT , OPT, H1B visa

OPT Rules to keep in Mind :

Once your OPT starts after graduation, ideally you should have a job and be technically working. If you are unemployed, you have to find a job as soon as you can in the area of your degree.  The rule is, you can only accumulate only up to 90 days of Unemployment during entire 12 month OPT Period. What it means is, say for instance you worked for an employer for 3 months on OPT and you thought of changing jobs, then you start looking and change employer, it took you 30 days to find another job( you did not work during this 30 days), now you have used 30 days of your 90 Days unemployment period given by USCIS. Precisely, you can only be unemployed for a total of 90 days during your 12 month OPT. If you belong to STEM degree and get 24 month OPT extension, then you get an additional 30 days of unemployment period, which totals to 120 days of unemployment period allowed in total 36 months of OPT.

Process for F1 visa to H1B visa Change of Status:

Typically after you graduate with MS or MBA, you start looking for a potential H1B visa sponsoring company that can hire you full time and file your H1B visa petition.  In fact, OPT is given to international students to demonstrate to these potential sponsors that you have the skills. Most of the employers want to see how you work and your skills for few months before they take decision to hire you full time and sponsor you work visa. It is assumed that you have OPT/ EAD Card in hand and working for an employer.  You may also check  How to find H1B visa Sponsors in an Area for Job Search in USA ?

Steps involved in F1 to H1B visa Change of Status & Important Points :

  1. You take interview from a H1B sponsoring company and they give you a job offer letter.  You may have interviewed with the company before graduation and might have started working for a company on OPT right after graduation.  The point is, you need a job offer from a H1B sponsoring company.
  2. Once you have the offer, you submit all the required documents to the H1B sponsoring company to file for H1B visa petition. For document list info, check article: Documents needed for applying for H1B visa. How much does it really cost ? What should you NOT give ?
  3. F1 visa students with MS or MBA from US are eligible for H1B Advanced degree quota of 20,000. Typically, the attorney will file your visa petition under this category if you have masters from US. If not, you will be filed under general category.
  4. You need to speak to your immigration attorney at the firm that is filing your petition and make sure they file the application as Change of Status (COS)
  5. Typically, USCIS accepts H1B visa petitions starting April 1st, there can be lottery, so be prepared. Some employers do not know the full rules and it is your job to remind them about the deadlines, your COS requirement and makes sure they process the H1B visa petition filing on time for your F1 visa change of status to H1B.
  6. Once you file for H1B visa petition, you will get a H1B visa receipt notice from USCIS. You can check its status on USCIS.gov.
  7. Depending on number of petitions filed and the work load of USCIS, they process H1B visa petitions anywhere from few weeks to few months. It depends.
  8. If you file for Premium processing, you will hear back from USCIS within 15 business days. The 15 day clock is a bit tricky when you file on April 1st, this year USCIS said, they will count the 15 days from April 7th. In general, if you do premium processing  for your H1B petition, you should hear back in 15 business days or earlier.
  9. Once your H1B petition is processed by USICS a decision is made, they update the case status online and send your employer the decision.  Hopefully you get the approval notice. Typically, your H1B visa term starts from October and your status is automatically converted to H1B from F1 Visa.

Hopefully you got an idea of F1 to H1B Change of status in US. If you are starting your career, you may read F1 visa to H1B visa: Consulting Career ? Pros and Cons of consulting ?


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Comments ( 647 )

  1. Swarup

    Hi Kumar,

    Please assist.

    My husband H1B 2021 got approved for 3yrs. He is planning to come to india in Sep last week due to medical emergencies.
    As we know that the status will change to H1B from Oct 1st. Will his travel effect the change of status?
    Can we go for stamping after oct or after dec ?

    1. administrator

      It will not matter as he will be out of the country. He can use the approval notice for getting H1B stamping in home country.

      1. sagar

        Hi Kumar,

        My H1b was picked in the second lottery on August 14, 2020. I am working on STEM OPT and currently in India.
        Can my company request for COS? Also, can I apply for H1B stamping in October 2020?

          1. Sagar Deshmukh

            Hi Kumar,
            Can my employer file for COS if I travel to the US before October 1?I am currently on STEM OPT

          2. administrator

            If you are in US on the day of filing, you they can…Assuming you are in US before the deadline for filing.

          3. sagar Deshmukh

            Hi Kumar,

            My STEM OPT expires on January 09, 2021 and currently, I am working from India.My H1B was picked in the second lottery. Can my employer file my H1B petition with consular processing? Also can I apply for H1B stamping in January 2021?

      2. Anshul

        Hi Kumar,

        I am on F1 OPT and picked for H1b this year under change of Status.

        I am planning to go to India for stamping on December. Will I am be able to get stamping and do I fall under h1b ban case?

        1. administrator

          This is not clear because you are going to change visa status, so it is slightly grea area. It is best to wait and go in Jan to avoid confusions. You can email consulate to get clarity.

  2. Ayush

    Hi! This is Ayush.

    I have filed for H1B in April 2019 with change of Status.
    Eventually i got an RFE in Sept 2019 and i sent the documents by Nov 2019.

    My visa got approved on Dec 19th 2019.
    However, the i-797 approval notice says the visa validity from Oct 2019 to Mar 2022.

    From Jan 2020 the Social security and Medicare taxes are being deducted from my paycheck but they are not deducted between Oct and Dec 2019.

    Am i supposed to pay those taxes (Social security and Medicare) from Oct 2019 or from the date of approval notice – Dec 19th 2019.

    Thanks for your help.

    1. administrator

      You need to discuss with your employer and get this sorted out. Also, call USCIS, if the effective date of the H1B was really Dec 19th or before…The reason is, they do not usually backdate the approvals…So, after verifying with USCIS, then speak to your employer and you may need to pay them, if needed and put in explanation for the reason as well.

  3. Aggrey


    Currently working to apply for change of status from F1 to H1B. Currently working on OPT status. Will I get a 60 day grace period to try my option B(apply to grad school) if the H1B application does not go through?


    1. administrator

      You get that option, only if your F1 is valid at that time…Usually you get 60 days grace period after F1 OPT end date.

  4. Teja


    I’m working in Chicago currently and my H1B is approved, where the status is changed from L1(student) to H1B(Immigrant worker) and started from October 1,2019, received the approval documents. What is the process of getting it stamped in India from now. Should I schedule a date for OFC appointment and Consular appointment.

    Thank you

    1. administrator

      Yes, that’s the process. Go to USTravelDocs website, it has full process. You need to fill DS-160, book appointment, then go for stamping…

  5. Atul

    Need help!

    H1b response received : 27th september

    H1B counselor processing approved : 3rd October

    Approved till January 2020.

    I was working with the client till July 5th on my cpt (11 months, no violation, second masters first time cpt, opt not availed during first masters). I am on leave with the end client. I applied for opt but I have received opt rfe. I have not replied yet for my opt rfe. My end client is not providing a client letter until I join them back. My employer is asking me to travel to India & get h1b stamping as it was not filed under change of status. My h1b will only start when I get my stamping. I have heard that without end client letter stamping is not possible. What are my options?

    Should I reply to my opt rfe, take approval, start working obtain client letter and then go for stamping? Is that a good option or will my OPT be rejected as my h1b is approved under counselor processing?

    Any help is appreciated to the best of your knowledge & experience. Thanks in advance.

  6. raja

    hello i got my H1B approved with I-797A starting from 10/01/2019. but i did contacted my university DSO they told my SEVIS is still active status. what should i have to do now then i am in H1B or F1 since my H1B already stated from October 1 2019

  7. sripuram


    I am in my STEM extension which is valid till June 2021. Few days back my H1 approved (only for 4 months) but change of status denied. Can I continue working in united states on my STEM status till June 2021 or do I need to go to home country and get stamping done and convert into h1?

  8. Jatin

    Hi guys,

    Currently I am on F-1 visa. I got my H-1B visa (change of status) approved this year. I appreciate the help provided by this forum in answering my questions.

    I want to plan a trip to India in the second week of October. Is possible to check the visa appointment dates at the consulate before filling DS-160? If I complete DS-160 and don’t find any available appointment in the said period, I won’t be making a trip. In that case, do I get the DS-160 fee refunded?

  9. Deepthi


    If at all the H1B visa got rejected or is not picked in the lottery, Can I continue to work with my OPT status under the F1 visa duration?

  10. Akshay

    I have received my H1-B approval notice with Change of Status, and my approval notice states that my H1-B status starts from October 1, 2019.

    Do I need up get my i20 updated to reflect that I will be in H1-B status (and not OPT)? Do I need to update anything on the SEVP portal?

    1. administrator

      You need to inform regarding the approval to your DSO, they will update the approval status. On Oct 1st, it will automatically change. No need to do anything from your side.

  11. Parimala


    i am currently on my OPT which expires in August 2020. My h1b approved with change of status starting from Oct1st with another employer. can i work for my current employer for a week after oct 1st? As my status automatically changes from F1-OPT to H1B from Oct 1st i am not sure my OPT is still valid?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. administrator

      OPT is only valid for F1 status, on Oct 1st, your status changes. So, you will be automatically in H1B status on Oct 1st and cannot use OPT from then. You can only work on H1B visa.

  12. Vick

    I ‘m working on F1 Opt status, my wife is on f2 dependent visa. my h1b has been approved on May 31st 2019 which is valid from oct 1st 2019. I’m planning to visit india in november 2019. Can you let me know the process & documents required for h1b & h4 stamping in India.

  13. 1st timer AD/RP/CP/F-1

    Hello All,

    My H1B got approved on July 31st (from uscis case status). But I didn’t get the approval notice yet. Do you know how long it might take? Also should we contact uscis regarding this?

    But I have to schedule visa appointment in India, for stamping, since I’m planning to go to India in October. Do I need the approval notice for appointment? And for stamping?


    1. administrator

      It can take couple of weeks at max. You can start the process, you may need to fill out some of the details as it appears on the approval notice to be sure…so, better to wait for a week or so and then do it. You can start on it and keep it in draft.

  14. Mukko


    Could you please tell me from when exactly does my company need to pay the stated prevailing wage in LCA form?

    My case was approved on 8/5/2019 for change of status, from F-1 to H1b.
    Could you please tell me from when exactly does my company need to pay the stated prevailing wage in LCA form?
    Period of Intended Employment in LCA form: 8/7/2019 – 8/7/2022
    In 797A: Valid from 10/1/2019 to 8/7/2022
    I-797A Notice Date: 8/5/2019 and received it on 8/15/2019 from the lawyer.
    The last payroll pay date is 8/16/2019 (for period 7/29-6/11: Bi-weekly) that it’s already sent the money.
    I tried to get information about this, but I couldn’t. Do you know where I can find the information?

    Thank you so much in advance.

    1. administrator

      Your H1B starts on October 1st, that’s when they are obligated to pay you the prevailing wage. Before that you are not on H1B status, so your LCA data does not apply.

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