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 : 617 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 ( 617 )

  1. Satish


    I have a question on the change of employer during H1B VISA processing.

    E.g. My employer will file my H1B petition on 1st of Apr 2012. When can I can change the employer after filing so that there will no be any H1B issue to do so? Do i need to wait for approval from USCIS on H1B? Can I only change the employer after Oct 1 when I will be actually trasfered to H1B status? Thanks

    1. administrator

      Another employer can file cap-exempt petition for you (aka H-1 transfer) once the first petition has been approved. You cannot file H-1 transfer prior to that. The other employer can file cap-exempt petition prior to Oct 1, but it will not become effective until Oct 1.

      1. Satish

        Thanks a lot Saurabh. It really helps. Just a follow-up question. Suppose new employer files a cap-exempt petition, and gets it approved. Though it will be effective from Oct 1, I can start working with new employer on my OPT before Oct 1, right? Thanks

  2. Sun

    Hi Saurabh,
    I am on F1 – OPT working full time. My OPT (First One year) expires on June 15,2012. My company will file for H1 in April. I know I can stay in US and work until Oct 1st with the Cap Gap Extension. But, what if H1 is not approved. Can I apply for the 17 month OPT extension after H1 is denied and my OPT has expired? If not, what are the other options?
    Thanks in advance for your help !

    1. administrator

      You can do this as long as you are still in valid status. If you have fear that H-1 might be rejected, then file it w/ PP so that it can get processed quickly giving you enough time to file for OPT extension in case it gets denied.

  3. Rohit Kochar

    Hello all ,
    My opt starts this 4th JUne 2012 and it ends 3rd June 2013( MBA graduate) .
    My confusion is
    a)should I finish my opt and apply for H1-b on 1st april 2013
    b) get a job and apply in this june-july 2012 provided there is a quota available.

    If i apply on april 2013 and got approved would I still be able to work after 30th july 2013 ? , because I cannot start working on H1-b until october 1st 2013..
    I guess I will come under “cap-gap”
    Please explain what should be the best decision for me to make?

    I would appreciate your replies.


    1. administrator

      Rohit Kochar,
      The longer you stay on OPT, the more taxes you will save (around 5%). However, economy is picking up and one doesn’t know how the quota would be next year (exhausted on first day etc). So making through the quota early helps. If you can live w/ those 5% extra taxes, then my suggestion would be to file H-1 now.

      You can talk to employer to file it w/o COS. This way your status would remain F-1/OPT even after Oct 1. Later, when your OPT is about to expire you can file for COS from F-1 to H-1 (take 2-3 months margin). This will allow you to have best of both the worlds.

  4. Margo


    I am currently under Pre-OPT (part time) from July 2011 – June 2012. Since I’m graduating this March 2012, the Pre-OPT will allow me to work full time.

    My employer filed the H1B for me in Oct 2011. I just got the RFE from USCIS recently. My Q is will I be eligible for the CAP GAP period until my H1B is approved?

    1. administrator

      Based on previous H-1 filing, you are not eligible for cap-gap. It was filed in FY-12, and to be eligible for cap-gap now it should have been filed in FY-13 i.e. after April 2012.

      1. Margo

        Thanks a lot, Saurabh. really appreciate your prompt reply.
        I hope the application will be accepted before my OPT expired.

  5. Rutu

    Hi Saurabh,

    Its really nice information we are getting from here. I am also having a question related to h1b visa. I am on OPT extension and will be expired on 10 June 2012. Another problem is my student visa also ends in June 24th 2012.

    1) If I apply for H1 visa in standard process how much time I can expect. If it takes more time than OPT expire date or Student visa expire date, can I stay in US?

    2) If I can stay in US when h1 status is pending, can I continue work?

    3) If I go with premium process and get h1 visa before opt expire date or student visa expiration date, do I need to go for visa stamping in India as student visa expires?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. administrator

      1. Under regular processing it can take 2-6 months. If H-1 is applied w/ COS w/ start date of Oct 1 and you are in valid F-1/OPT status at the time of filing, you will be eligible for cap-gap. This will allow you to stay and work in US beyond OPT expiration date. You can do this until Oct 1 or H-1 denial date, whichever is earlier.
      2. Yes. Refer to (1)
      3. Not required if H-1 gets approved w/ COS. Your status would become H-1 from Oct 1, and no stamping is required until you travel out of US next.

  6. Eli

    Mr. Saurabh

    I am a little bit confused. So here is my situation. As in today, I’m on my OPT (w/EAD card) and my OPT will expire on July 7, 2012. I’m currently working and my employer is willing to sponsor me and they will do it this coming April. Here’s the catch, I just checked my passport and my F-1 visa already expired (July 7, 2011) I am so worry right now,

    1. Am I an illegal alien as in right now?
    2. Do I need go back to Indonesia and apply for a new F-1 visa?
    3. If the answer for Q.2 is no, what should i do in order for me to apply for my H1B visa?

    Please let me know, I am very scare and worry right now. Thank you

    Best regards,

    1. administrator

      1. Yes, you are fine. The visa stamp in passport is just used for entry in US and can expire while you are still in US. Your legal status is not impacted.
      2. No need unless you really need to travel to home country for business/pleasure etc
      3. Have the employer file H-1 w/ COS. Once approved, your status would be H-1 from COS approval date (usually Oct 1). You will get cap-gap b/w July 7 and Oct 1, which would allow you to stay and work during that period. You can do that until Oct 1 or H-1 denial date, whichever is earlier.

  7. Eliezer


    I have several questions; I just talked to my company and i just got a lawyer for my case. my questions are :

    1. Is it going to be okay if My lawyer/my company file all the paperwork and send it to USCIS after april 1st?

    2. When is the latest/deadline for my company to send my documents to USCIS?

  8. Shanshan


    I am currently on OPT which expires on June 19th, 2012. My employer is waiting to file an H1B petition for me on April 1st. If it gets approved, does it mean that I won’t be able to work between June 19th and October 1st, 2012? I work at a school, where the school year starts in late August. Does it mean that I will at least miss a month of teaching?

    Another question is, after June 19th can I still stay in the US until Oct. 1st? I just applied to a graduate program, so will I be able to enroll in the program starting on July 5th, 2012? Do I need a F1 visa for attending this summer program?

    What would be the best to do so that I can stay in the country or come back for the summer program and is it possible at all for me to start working on H1B before October 1st?

    Thank you!

    1. administrator

      If H-1 is applied w/ COS w/ start date of Oct 1 and have been maintaining legal status, then you will be eligible for cap-gap. This way, you can continue to stay and work until Oct 1 even after your OPT expires. You can do this until H-1 denial date or Oct 1, whichever is earlier.

  9. Jin

    Now I am on OPT. few days ago, I found a employer willing to sponsor my H1-b and they require 2-3 months probation period. My opt is expired on April 1 2012, and I might apply to H1-b during the grace period. I wonder I can apply during the grace period and … I can qualify for cap-gap to work until OCT 2012.

    1. administrator

      You can apply during grace period and are eligible for cap-gap. However, you cannot work during grace period and cap-gap as your OPT would have expired by the time H-1 is filed. One can work during cap-gap only if OPT is still valid at the time of H-1 filing.

        1. administrator

          I don’t think it can be filed on Sunday and this year quota starts only on April 2. Check w/ your attorney if it can be filed on April 1 and be eligible for cap-gap w/ work authorization.

  10. Neha


    Need help in deciding.. I was on H1B for three years, then I took F1 visa as my H1 was not able to extend. Now I am on OPT which I have to extend in august for another 17 months. I want to know if that can a employer file my GC directly, and if yes then will that be safe to do now or should they file for H1B.
    If H1B is filed then will the time of my OPT or CPT count towards the H1B 6yrs of time.

    Please help..

  11. Sam

    I am currently on OPT and my employer is applying for H1b in April. My EAD expires in June and I assume my H1b starts in october. Can I stay and work in the US until October 1st r do I have to apply for extension of OPT along with h1b application. Also, my wife is currently on f2 status and will be cnverting to h4 in october when my h1 gets approved. What happens to her status from June to October and will there be any paperwork to prove she is legally staying here in the form of i20 extension?


    1. administrator

      You can continue to stay and work on the basis of cap-gap. You can do this until H-1 denial date or Oct 1, whichever is earlier. She will also get legal status along w/ you on it’s basis as long as her COS to H-4 has been applied w/ you.

  12. Uxma


    You mean wait 6 months on h1 before he files GC? See I have been working for my employer for 7 months already on OPT so does he still need to wait that long on the h1 before filing for GC?

    1. administrator

      Check w/ them when they want to file GC for you. GC can be filed by an employer for whom you are not even working. But to show that you are qualified for the position, it is better to have been working for the employer for at least 6-12 months (and that is why employers wait to evaluate your performance). If your employer is willing to file GC soon after H-1 commences, then go for it.

  13. Uxma


    You guys have been amazingly helpful, thanks so much. I actually had a follow up question. If one’s h1 is approved and later they wish to move to a different employer what processes are in place to do this legally? Also what happens if the new employment is in a different industry/trade? And how soon is the new employer able to file for GC after the h1 has transferred to them?



    1. administrator

      The new employer needs to file cap-exempt H-1 for the employee (also known as H-1 transfer). The process and documents required are same as new filing. In addition, you will have to submit copy of 797 from old employer and payslips/W2 for the work done for old employer in US.

      The new employer can be in a different industry, but you need to be qualified for the position. They can file as soon as they want, although many employers wait for around 6-12 months before filing H-1 so that they can evaluate your performance (this also addresses any concerns USCIS may have regarding why employer selected you for GC).

  14. Sailesh

    Hi Saurabh

    Thanks for all the suggestions you give us. I really appreciate your help/time you spend to answer all our queries.

    My situation is same as others but a little bit critical.

    My OPT is going to end in March 2013. My employer is going to file my H1 this April 2012 with PP, but my main problem is that i need to go back to india for some personal reasons in august 2012 for 15 days. I wanted to make sure that I stay on OPT and come back to US in august without the H1 B stamping.
    1) Will my Visa status change from OPT to H1B from OCT ‘1 as it is the start date or as soon as it is approved?
    2) I just wanted make sure that I don’t have any problems at POE.

    Can you please suggest what are my options and also a better way to avoid H1 B stamping at least for this august.

    Appreciate all your help…..

    1. administrator

      There is a possibility that you will know about your H-1 approval by the time you leave US. If the H-1 is approved w/ COS, then you can travel out of US and return on OPT as long as you are still employed. You can then start working on H-1 from Oct 1. Make sure you are employed on OPT, have employment verification letter and have I-20 stamped for travel by DSO. No H-1 stamping is required in this case.

      1. Sailesh

        Thanks for all the information saurabh…i need a quick suggestion from you:

        So do you want me to tell my employer to file the H1 with the COS set to OCT 1.
        so that even though my H1 is approved I will still be on OPT until OCt1 right?

        Once again I thank you for your valuable suggestions.


  15. Uxma


    I am currently on OPT and it’s expiring at the end of July. My employer wants to file for my H1-b and it will probably be with COS and premium processing, so I can work during the gap between my OPT end date, of July 29 and H1-b status commencement date of October 1. However my concern is in case of a rejection, will my OPT status still continue as prior to application? And if I wanted to join school in August would I still be able to do that provided I have an i-20 and maintained f-1 status. Previously my f-1 had been extended by my school since I never went back home to have to reapply for it.



    1. administrator

      In case of rejection your OPT will remain valid until it’s expiration date. Any action you take while being in legal F-1 status (even after H-1 denial) should get approved. In other words, you should be able to enroll in another school as long as your F-1 status is valid.

  16. Bongani


    I am currently on OPT expiring on March 17th and then have the 60days grace period until mid May.

    My company will be applying for H1 for me in April with premium processing to get fast decision.

    Then, in May, I will be travelling outside the US to Japan (not my home country) and plan to return to the US in late October 2012.

    If my H1 is approved in April 2012, then what status do I need and how will I return to the US in October. Should my company apply with or without COS. Or can my passport get stamped while in Japan?

    Please advise. Thank you!

    1. administrator

      Your F-1 will no longer be valid by October as your grace period is expiring in mid May. So you will have to go for H-1 visa stamping before returning to US on H-1. If your travel plans are certain, then it should be applied w/o COS. You will have to check w/ consulate in Japan whether you can go for stamping there or not.

      1. Bongani

        Thank you Saurabh for the information!

        From what I have read on the US Embassy in Japan’s website, they will process/stamp H1 if you have the approved i797.

        I have another question. If my H1 status is approved very quickly in April, how long would the subsequent COS take? Does the COS only take affect in October?

        In short, if I am in the US and my H1 is approved, with or without COS, how does travel before October affect it. And what is the best thing to do if travelling before October?

        1. administrator

          When filing just the COS, it can take around 2-3 months to process. However, it will be approved only for Oct 1 or after.

          This is my suggestion:
          – apply H-1 on April 1 w/ COS of start date of Oct 1. This enables you for cap-gap and allows you to stay in US beyond 60 day grace period. If COS is not applied (even though it will be irrelevant once you leave US after OPT expiration) then you will not be eligible for COS and cannot stay beyond grace period expiration
          – make sure H-1 is approved by the time you travel out of US. Upgrade to PP if necessary
          – go for H-1 visa stamping carrying the approved 797 and other documents
          – return around Oct 1 on stamped H-1 visa and start working on H-1 from Oct 1

  17. Bob

    If my employer applies H1B visa then do I have to leave US until it is approved or can still come and go on my visa waiver which is good for 90 days.

  18. Rajiv


    My OPT is expiring this July. I am employed but right now on the bench and I am trying to find a project. I have to file H-1 in April or May. Many are saying I need a client letter for my H1 to be approved. Is it so necessary?? What if my client doesnt give me a letter? Would my h1 be denied??

    1. administrator

      If you are working for a small to medium size consulting companies, then it’s better to submit the petition w/ client letter and information. It is pretty tough to get it approved w/o client letter in such an employment arrangement.

  19. Felix

    Hi, i found a sponsor who filed a petition for me while i was in my last semester of my master program, i did not do any opt. Now i finished the program and i am in the grace period, here are my questions

    1. Should I apply for opt, so i can remain in status while waiting for approval?
    2. I traveled in december for two weeks, does it affect the COS of my h1b application?


      1. Felix

        In October 2011. The current status RFE, it is requesting information for the company related to the address, I don’t think it is an issue, the problem here it might take another month more to reply and have decision for the case, I am in the beginning of the second month of grace period, therefore I am not sure if I’ll be out of status, the lawyer of the company says I will not, but I need to be 100% sure. Please advise.


        1. administrator

          I would suggest upgrading your petition to premium processing while responding to RFE so that USCIS adjudicates it within 15 calendar days.

          You travelled in Dec while your H-1 was pending, and so your COS would be abandoned. When they approve H-1, it would be w/o I-94. So you may have to go for H-1 visa stamping or file for COS later. Upgrading to PP will give you the result while you are still in status and before your grace period runs out. Once your grace period ends, you cannot stay based on pending H-1 as COS would have been abandoned by then.

          1. administrator

            I don’t think you will be able to apply for OPT now. Check w/ DSO if your SEVIS record is still active or has it been closed.

  20. Anand


    I m currently on OPT and my company is filing for H1B.

    My question is that can I shift job in the filing – stamping period. Or when can I change my job if my H1 b is filed.


    1. administrator

      There are 2 scenarios:
      1. Current H-1 petition is under process – if you want to move to another employer and work for them on H-1, then they need to file cap-subject petition and this can be done as long as the quota is open
      2. Current H-1 petition has been approved – if you want to move to another employer and work for them on H-1, then they need to file cap-exempt petition and this can be done even after quota has exhausted.

      In either case, you are subject to Oct 1 start date.

  21. Amr


    If I apply for change of status (from F1/OPT to H1-B), and i wanted to leave the country AFTER my H1-B was granted, do I really have to go back to my home country to the US embassy there?

    If so, how long does that process take? What is the process like?

  22. Francesca

    I know this this not the correct place for this post but I was wondering if you could also give suggestions for tax preparation for guys in F1 Visa living in US.
    This website is probably the best for visa information. It would be really cool have also info about taxes.
    Thank you for your help!

  23. vicky singh

    Right now, i am working on OPT.my OPT will end in July 30 , 2013 . my employer want to apply for my H1B on 1st April 2012.But, i want to remain on OPT till July, 2013 to use all OPT benefits. if i apply for H1B in April , 2012 . what should i do to maintain OPT status till July, 2013. so i can save TAX. moreover , if i apply for H1B this April. i want to go india for visit. i don’t want to go for stamping . can you please tell me ?. what should i do to remain my OPT status till end of my OPT. how can i go to India on OPT after apply for H1B . so i have no need to go for stamping .

    1. administrator

      Vicky Singh,
      Your employer can file H-1 in April 2012 w/o COS. This way your status would remain F-1/OPT even after H-1 gets approved. Later, next year around March-April the employer can file for COS to H-1 w/ requested start date of Aug 1, 2013. This way your H-1 will get filed this year (what your employer wants) and you will be able to maximize the OPT period (what you want).

  24. Gaurav


    I am working full time with a company on OPT. They are going to file for H1 in April 2012. And my OPT is expiring in OCT 2012. Can I go to India after getting my H1 approved before Oct 2012 and come back to USA on OPT without H1 stamping?


    1. Ravi

      if you travel to India in sept middle or last week then you can get H1 stamped in India and return on it, why do you want to apply for change of status again after arriving on OPT and change to H1.

      1. Gaurav

        Thanks for your reply Ravi.

        I may have to go to India before OCT and I must apply for H1 this year asap. So I am not sure whether I should go to India or not before Oct.

    2. administrator

      If you leave US before Oct 2012, then you have two options:
      1. Return on F-1 visa and OPT (assuming it is still valid) and then file COS to H-1. Once COS is approved, you can start working on H-1 from COS approval date.
      2. Get H-1 visa stamped in your home country and return on stamped H-1 visa. This can happen only if you are planning to return on or after 20th Sep and your H-1 has already been approved by then.

  25. Antonio

    I am a Mexican citizen with an expired F1 stamp on my passport but my I-20 and OPT are still valid until 12/31/12.

    I think I am not able to cross the border just with my EAD and passport, do I need to get a new stamp? or only if I want to travel?

    What about the border checkpoint in san clemente and nogales Arizona, 60 miles into the border they always ask you for your “documents”. I live in San Diego….

    Would apprecciate your knowledge and comments

  26. Mary


    I wanted to know if I could go from H1B to OPT?

    I am currently on H1B and im really unhappy with the company I am working right now. I am about to graduate from my MBA so I could apply for an OPT. I wanted to know if I could apply to OPT while i am on H1B and once my OPT gets approved then change jobs. Also I wanted to know if I resigned to my current job if I could later on revive my current H1B with another company. Thank you very much for your help

    1. administrator

      Once you are on H-1, you can no longer go back to OPT. However, another employer can file for H-1 transfer for you, and you can then start working for that employer. If you leave current employer, and no other employer applies for H-1 transfer, then you need to leave US.

  27. Jaleel

    One of my relatives has just completed his MS in US. He got the OPT also sanctioned. It is already 45 days since he received his OPT (EAD) Card. So far he could not secure a job. Supposing he completes 90 days and does not succeed in securing a job, what is his position? Does he have to leave US or is there any concession available for such persons?

  28. Raj

    Great piece of information is available in this bog and I really appreciate your effort of answering every question posed here Sourabh.
    My situation is little different as I am yet to apply for student VISA.

    I am planning to apply for student VISA for an MBA program with ITU, San Jose, CA for this summer admissions and have following queries in mind. Appreciate your help in clarifying them:

    1. Can we work full time on this student VISA – I think its known as F1 right? correct me if I am wrong.
    2. If we can work full time with this VISA, can we work anywhere in US or it has to be within the state of the University?
    3. How soon we can start working – is it as soon as we land in US or we can also start searching for jobs before we reach US and after we recieve the VISA stamping here in India itself?
    4. Can I get my wife and Kid (2.5 years old) to join me while on this VISA as my dependents? How easy it is to?
    5. Or else can I get them to join me on tourist VISA for sometime till I get H1B sponsership?
    6. Finally what are the chances of getting the job with this VISA in hand – I have over 10 years of IT experience with PMP certification on project Management?

    1. administrator

      1. You cannot work full-time while on F-1, yes that’s the visa. You will have to study full-time and can work if you are issued CPT/pre-completion OPT.
      2. TVU students got into trouble as they were working on distant places on CPT. So make sure your work is related to your course and on/around campus that allows you to study full-time.
      3. Check w/ school when they can issue CPT.
      4. Yes, they can go for F-2 visa stamping when you go for F-1 visa stamping.
      5. Read (4)
      6. It is tough to say as that’s not my area of interest. You can search for openings online and that can provide you some pointers.

      1. Raj

        Thanks for your structured answers Sourabh. I will have to check with the University authorities on when they can provide CPT.
        Assuming that, I get CPT to work in the area related to my course, can I apply for H1B for this year itself i.e. Oct 2012 before completing my course? or I have to be on OPT while applying for H1B (offcource thru willing employer to sponser H1B).

        1. administrator

          It is usually recommended to wait for at least 60-90 days on the new visa status (especially if it is B-1/2 or F-1) before applying for H-1. Else USCIS may question the intent of using B-1/2 and/or F-1. Once that condition has been satisfied, H-1 can be applied even while you are in the middle of your course.

          1. Raj

            Few more queries Sourabh:

            1. Could you also please let me know the fund requirements for F1 VISA interview? Is that equal to first year’s fees or complete course duration fees?

            2. Also, from how long we need to maintain these funds for VISA interview? 15 days, 30 days etc.?

            3. Any other means of funds/wealth we can demonstrate for VISA interview? like property papers, Fixed deposits or Education loan approval letter etc.?

            4. Finally, what are the timelines to get the VISA after the interview?

          2. administrator

            I don’t know the answers about F-1 interview and funds. There are few articles on the blog related to F-1, you can go through them.

  29. Kartik

    Hi Saurabh,

    My OPT expires on June 1st, 2012. If my employer starts H1B petition filing in April will it be possible for me to continue working till a decision on my petition has been made?

    1. administrator

      You can qualify for cap-gap, which will allow you to work until Oct 1 2012 or H-1 denial date, whichever is earlier. To be eligible for cap-gap,
      – your H-1 needs to be filed w/ COS
      – requested start date should be Oct 1
      – you need to be maintaining legal status at the time of filing

  30. Suresh

    Hi Saurabh ,

    My opt expires on feb 2013, so when is the best time for applying h1b in april 2012 or oct 2012 or 2013 april. And do i have chance for applying h1b in april 2013. if my opt expries in feb 2013. Please help me, thank you.

    1. administrator

      As your OPT is expiring before April 2013, it is better to apply in FY-13, filing for which starts in April 2012. It needs to be applied while the quota is open. You can apply in Oct 2012 w/ requested start date of Feb 2013, but then quota should be open in Oct for this. Do you want to work on OPT as much as possible, or do you want to move to H-1 as soon as possible?

        1. Suresh

          Hi Saurabh,

          Thank you for your answer but i have one more question
          In worst cases do i have chance to apply for h1b in april 2013? and what shd i do if i have chance, to save status. And Thank you for your answer in advance.

          1. administrator

            If you apply for H-1 in April 2013, then you will have to stop working from Feb onwards. You may still be eligible for cap-gap but you will not be allowed to work until Oct 2013 as your OPT would have expired by the time H-1 is filed and you will be on your 60 day grace period. Once the 60 day grace period elapses and your H-1 has still not been filed, then you will have to leave US.

      1. Suresh

        Hi Saurabh,

        If my employer applies for h1b in april 2012 with premium i will get results in 15-20 days right. if my h1b approved i have start date of h1b will be in OCT right? but after approval of h1b and before OCT start date do i have any chances to go to india on OPT and return in OPT before OCT start date?

        1. administrator

          If you leave US, then your COS would be abandoned. This means your status would remain F-1/OPT when you return to US. So H-1 wouldn’t become active on Oct 1 unless COS is filed or you enter on stamped H-1 visa.

          This is COS.

          1. administrator

            If your H-1 is still pending, then you cannot apply for COS until it gets approved. Once H-1 gets approved, you can apply for COS which may take around 2 months to process.

  31. Rajiv

    Hi, my opt and f1 visa expire in June. I am planningto apply h1 this April. My question is what will happen if h1 processing takes beyond my visa expiration date. Should I leave the country or can I stay til my h1 gets approved and, make use of my grace period. Please suggest me

    1. administrator

      You can continue to stay and work until Oct 1, 2012 or H-1 denial date (whichever is earlier) based on cap-gap. You will be eligible for cap-gap if:
      – H-1 is applied w/ COS w/ requested start date of Oct 1, 2012
      – You are in valid F-1 or OPT status at the time of H-1 filing

      1. Rajiv

        Hi saurab,
        Thanks for the reply. But are you sure. What if my f1 expirres and my
        h1 is still under process. I read somewhere that I should leave the country. I am a bit tensed.

        1. administrator

          Search for cap-gap on USCIS website. They have pretty descriptive information over there, and will address your concern.

  32. Bapu Hirave

    Please help me. I am graduated in Dec 2011. My OPT is valid until Jan 2013. and My F1 Visa is valid until July 2014. I got full time and working with company. Company is willing to start the Process of H1B Visa application. They are started this process little bit. I have planned to fly India in April 1st week to Last week of April. So Meanwhile they will file my H1B application in April.

    Is there any problem for reentry in USA ?

    Please help me.

    1. administrator

      Bapu Hirave,
      Here is my suggestion:
      1. Travel and return on OPT. Carry your OPT payslips, employment offer letter and I-20 endorsed for travel
      2. Once back in US, ask the employer to then file the H-1 w/ COS w/ start date of Oct 2012.

      If your H-1 is filed before you leave US, then your COS would be abandoned once you leave US. Your status would continue to remain F-1 until you again file for COS (no PP available here) or get H-1 visa stamped from a consulate.

        1. administrator

          Bapu Hirave,
          It can be filed but not w/ COS as you will not be in US. It needs to be filed while you are in US, and then you need to remain in US until it’s start date in order to move to H-1 status w/o needing to go out of US for stamping.

  33. Mado

    Anyone who can answer my question..I highly appreciate it!

    An employer has filed for H1b in my behalf 2 weeks ago. My i-20 status will be terminated Feb 20.

    1. Do I have to be on F-1 status (get new i-20) since I will be on 60 days grace period starting Feb 20th.

    2. Meanwhile if I ask my sponsoring employer to go with the premium processing of H1B (2 months) would I still need to maintain my F-1 student status?

    3. Can I get a new I-20 F-1 status/or H1B while I am on grace period?

    4. What do you recommend based on my case? e.g. ask my employer to go with premium processing?


    1. administrator

      How did your employer file H-1 petition 2 weeks ago. Quota got exhausted in Nov 2011. Unless you held H-1 visa in the past (and H-1 employer filed cap-exempt petition for you) or if the employer is a cap-exempt employer (i.e. non-profit etc), they cannot file H-1 petition once the quota has exhausted.

      1. Mado

        Hello Saurabh,

        Thank you for your quick response. You’re right. My employer is a state university, so I guess that makes it a cap-exempt.

        I’m just stressed now since my i-20 status will be terminated Feb 20, and the H1b processing has just started. Any recommendations?

        1. administrator

          1. You don’t need to get another I-20. Just let your DSO know that your H-1 has been filed and you have started your 60 day grace period. You can continue to stay during those 60 days, but cannot work.

          2. 60 day grace period comes under F-1 status.

          3. That might complicate the things – like what would happen if H-1 gets approved followed by another I-20.

          4. Filing through PP is a better option. You need to stop working once OPT expires, but you can continue to stay during those 60 day grace period.

  34. Eli


    I have a quick question. I am currently working for an engineering company and i just talked to my boss about sponsoring me. He told me yes. What are the documents needed from me to give to the company? What is the next step i should take? and another question, should my company filled all the document and send to the immigration before april 1 or wait until april 1?

    Much appreciate it. Thank you

    Best regards,

    1. administrator

      From your side, they would need following documents:
      – degrees, marksheets
      – resume
      – experience letters
      – payslips (if you have worked in US in the past)
      – passport

  35. Gaurav Roy

    Hi Saurabh

    I must say your answers are very useful for all of us. In my situation, I graduated in August 2011. To save my OPT days I joined a desi consultancy firm and got a project immediately. Currently I am working in the same project and my OPT will end in September 2012. My company will file h-1 for me this april. Can you advise which is the best time to go for a vacation to India safely ? I was thinking this March before my H-1 process starts (and also I am on my OPT). Also If I go India this March in OPT what documents and precautions I should take so I don’t face any immigration problem. In addition to this, how safe is it to go India in H-1 status (which I got from a desi consultancy and now working for a 3rd party project)? Thanks again for this wonderful forum.

    1. administrator

      Gaurav Roy,
      It would be better to travel before your H-1 is filed, so that your COS doesn’t get abandoned.

      When traveling on OPT, you would need:
      – passport w/ stamped unexpired F-1 visa
      – I-20 w/ OPT information
      – I-20 card endorsed for travel by the school
      – W2 and OPT payslips to show that you have been unemployed for < 90 days
      – employment verification letter
      – EAD card
      – Graduation degree and marksheets

      May be not all of them will be asked at PoE, but it's better to err on the side of caution.

      1. Gaurav Roy

        Thanks Saurabh for the reply. Another doubt in mind, if I go with all above mentioned docs , travelling in OPT is completely safe right ? As in are there any incidents when someone in OPT is stopped at PoE.

        Also I am a little worried about the desi consultancy job now after going through your blog. Is the transition from consultancy job to full-time smooth in terms of visa transactions and consultancy willingness as per your experience ?

        Many Thanks

        1. administrator

          Gaurav Roy,
          I don’t know of any incidents where one was stopped at PoE on OPT. You will be having all documents to show that you have been maintaining status in US, and will continue to do the same after entering US.

          Moving to a full-time employment should not be that difficult provided you are technically sound, and there are openings matching your skill set.

  36. Ramakanth Gona

    Hello Guys ,
    Please help me
    1 Im new grad and got my first opt for 12 months
    2 I cleared one interview in these days and my employer here in usa wants me to send to France for training like for 18 months .
    3 my question is can it possible with my opt to go France and get training and can i come back safely to usa for visit in between 18 months ? ….
    Please help me guys !!!

    1. administrator

      Ramakanth Gona,
      You need a visa to return to US. Your F-1 visa may not be the best option based upon how frequently will your be returning, and for what purpose.

  37. sarin

    Hello Saurabh,

    My employer was unable to file an H1-b for me because of my lower pay level and my OPT expires on February 17th. I will be going to Master’s school so that I can remain in the US in F-1 status. I was wondering if a company could file a H1 for me while I am studying my masters (that means without having an OPT) and if I could change status from F1 to H1, if the petition is approved?

    T hanks,


    1. administrator

      Yes that is possible. An employer can file H-1 for you while you are doing your Masters along w/ COS from F-1 to H-1. No OPT is required in this case. Make sure that you do not file for H-1 within 60-90 days of starting the new school. Chances of COS approval are more when filed after 90 days.

      1. sarin

        Thank you Saurabh,

        You have a great site and it is one of my primary source of immigration information. I have bookmarked the site.

  38. Rajesh


    I am on OPT and it expires on 15th May 2012. I applied for OPT extension and it is under process. My employer is interested in filing for H1b Visa on 1st April 2012.

    I want to go to India in the last week of March 2012 and come back in first week of May 2012. Can my employer file H1B petition through PP while I am in India? If so, What happens if it gets approved while I am in India? Can I come back on OPT?

    Do I need to apply H1B w/o COS? If I apply w/o COS, can I continue to work on OPT extension till it expires and can I apply for COS just before the expiration of OPT extension which will be in 2013.

    In that case, my H1B start date will be 1st Oct 2012. If I don’t apply for COS before 1st Oct, what will be my status after 1st Oct? Will it be OPT extension or H1B?

    1. administrator

      You can return on OPT, but then your COS will be abandoned. This means COS needs to be filed again after you return to US or get H-1 visa stamped from a US consulate. You can continue to work on OPT until OPT expiration date until COS gets approved. If COS is not applied, then your status would continue to remain F-1/OPT.

      Another option is that your employer files H-1 w/ COS after you return to US.

      1. Rajesh

        Hello Sir,

        Thanks for your valuable information. Please clear two more doubts.

        If I get H1B approved in 2012 quota and don’t apply for COS till Oct 2013 (when my OPT Extension expires), does the H1B visa remains valid? If valid, when the H1B visa expires? Will it be three years from Oct 2012 or Oct 2013?

        If I apply for H1B w/ COS and it gets approved after my return to US, then my status will change from 1st Oct 2012, right?

        1. administrator

          1. Yes it will remain valid. If the petition expires, then H-1 extension needs to be filed along w/ COS. H-1 validity will depend upon what your employer requests and what USCIS seems appropriate based on submitted documents.
          2. Once you leave US, your COS will be considered abandoned. This means you will have to again apply for COS after returning to US, or get H-1 visa stamped from a consulate.

  39. harsh gangakhedkar

    I had my H1B Visa interview on 13 Jan 2012, they rejected my Visa today and said it has been sent to USCIS for revocation.My OPT has ended on 3 JAN 2012

    Can I extend my opt from India?what is the fastest way I can go back to US?

  40. Francesca

    I am in the STEM extension of my OPT, I am currently working in NY and my OPT extension will end in December 2012.
    My company in April will apply for my H1B.
    My question is: I need to travel to Italy (where I am from) in May 2012, will I have problem to re-enter the US if they already applied for my H1B in April 2012?
    I read everywhere this is something I can’t do until October 1st when my H1B will actually starts, but what happen if I’d have an emergency or something very urgent to do? Basically I will be trapped in the US from April to October, is this right ?
    Thank you very much

    1. administrator

      You will not be “trapped” in US. You can still leave US, but then:
      – you will have to file for COS after returning to US on F-1 (this is when H-1 is still under process at the time you return)
      – you will have to appear for H-1 visa stamping in Italy (this is when H-1 has been approved by the time you return, and it’s close to Oct)

      1. Francesca

        Thank you very much for your reply. This blog is very helpful!
        So as far as I understood in April we should file the “petition” for the H1B in order to not loose the opportunity to enter in the number of H1B available for this year and not file the COS.
        Then I can travel (still as an OPT visa) and re-enter in the US in May. Then we can file for a COS.
        Then the next step would be that I will travel back to my country after my my H1 has been approved. Is everything right?
        Just this phrase was little unclear to me _”(this is when H-1 has been approved by the time you return, and it’s close to Oct)”_ when I should travel back? And could I encounter any problem in this procedure?

        Thanks again

        1. administrator

          Few corrections:
          1. “Then I can travel (still as an OPT visa) and re-enter in the US in May. Then we can file for a COS.” – COS can be applied only after your petition has been approved.
          2. “Then the next step would be that I will travel back to my country after my my H1 has been approved.” – if COS gets approved then you can start working on H-1 from the COS approval date. There is no requirement to get H-1 visa stamped as long as you continue to remain inside US. Next time you travel out of US, you will have to get H-1 visa stamped.
          3. “when I should travel back? And could I encounter any problem in this procedure?” – The other option is while you are outside of US and your H-1 petition gets approved, you have the option of going for H-1 visa stamping and then return to US and work on H-1 (no COS is required in this case). However, this is possible only if your H-1 stamping date is at most 90 days prior to Oct 1, and your return date is on or after Sep 20, 2012.

          Does that clarify?

          1. Francesca

            Thanks Saurabh! Just one last question.
            Does it matter if my petition (basically I have to ask them to apply w/o COS) get approved before or after I exit the US?

            And just to confirm: in your point number 2 when i will return back to US I will still be able to work under my OPT right?
            then they will apply for a COS (after my petition gets approved) then as soon as it is approved I will work under H1 . Next time I travel out of US, I will have to get H-1 visa stamped.

            That is correct?

            Thank you very much

          2. administrator

            If you know that you will be traveling for sure, then it’s better to have it filed w/o COS. It doesn’t matter whether your petition is approved or still pending when you leave US.

            Yes, you can work on OPT. Make sure:
            – you are employed when you return back to US
            – carry offer letter and recent paychecks
            – stamp your OPT card for travel from your school DSO
            – F-1 visa in the passport is not expired

            Yes, you can then apply for COS and start working from COS approval date (which cannot be prior to Oct 1, 2012), and you will have to get H-1 visa stamped next time you travel out of US.

  41. Eliezer Suhartanto


    I am just wondering, my OPT will expired this June, 2012. Should i talk to my employer about h1B visa before April or should I wait until April 1st, 2012? By any chance, if I apply H1B this April, should i use the premium process fee since my OPT is expiring soon. Please help. Thank you

    Best regards,

    1. administrator

      You should have that conversation w/ the employer anytime, so that it can be filed anytime prior to OPT expiration. If your H-1 is filed w/ COS and before OPT expires, then you will be eligible for cap-gap. This will allow you to work in US while your H-1 is under progress. This can continue until Oct 1, 2012 or H-1 denial date, whichever is earlier. Filing in PP ensures a decision within 15 calendar days, so you would know whether your H-1 will start on Oct 1 or whether you will have to leave US.

  42. fluid2

    Did MS (2003) in USA and used my OPT and then worked on H1b for 3 years.

    Then again went on F1 to do full time MBA and after graduating, could not find a job and hence had to transfer to another masters (3rd one) to keep F1 alive and kept looking for a job

    Now found the job. Company applied for a premium transfer and since I had 3 years remanining on H1b, I did not have to apply in a cap

    H1b got approved this week.

    Now I went to the International Student office of my university to just inform them of the same.

    They pulled up my record to see the SEVIS information (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) and found out that the receipt number was there in the system, however, the SEVIS system mentions a line stating that:

    “An I 129 application with receipt number ___ has been filed and currently the F1 status has Automatically being extended to Sep 30 2012”

    The personnel at my University has stated that this is very werid and they need to send the SEVIS a copy of my I 797 approval so that SEVIS rectifies the automatic information in its database. They think it might be beacuase the SEVIS database automatically did this assuming that the student is falling onto an OPT and the next cap opens on Oct 2012 and hence they automatically update the F1 til Sep 30, 2012

    The official approval will come in mail only after a couple of weeks…Now the company wants me to join right now and says since the h1b is approved and USCIS email says so, the university says that they advice me not to start till this SEVIS issue is resolved and they say its a unique case and they dont know how long SEVIS will take to update the correct info

    What do i do? I have to join and start working but worried about how big an issue this is?

    Please advice!!
    Here is the email received from USCIS:-

    The California Service Center has approved the following
    I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker
    that had been filed under the Premium Processing Program:

    Receipt Number: (Given)
    Petitioner: (given)
    Beneficiary: (Given)
    DOB: (Given)
    Classification: H1B
    Starting Validity Date: 01/17/12
    Ending Validity Date: 01/02/15
    Consulate notified (if applicable):
    I-94 # (if applicable): (Given)

    The form I-797 Approval Notice will follow in the mail.

    1. administrator

      Check w/ your employer’s attorney, but below is my opinion.

      You can start working on H-1 as it has just been approved w/ COS. Assuming SEVIS did a mistake and extended your status until Sep 30, 2012, there is something called “Last Action Rule”. This means the last action taken on your immigration records determines your status. So SEVIS update must have happened sometime ago, but H-1 update happened later on 01/17/12 and that determines your eventual status, which is H-1.

  43. Deepak


    I am in a very tricky situation.

    I graduated with a Ph.D. in Dec 2010. My OPT started on Jan 4th 2011 and it expired on Jan 4th 2012 (2 weeks ago).

    I am now in the 60-day grace period after my OPT has expired.

    I currently have a postdoc offer from a university and they are willing to offer an H-1B for me. Since it is a university, this H-1B is cap-exempt.

    My question is the following:

    Can i apply for the cap-exempt H-1B without leaving the US, given that my OPT has expired and i am currently in 60-day grace period?

    If i am allowed to apply, based on typical processing times for H-1B cap-exempt visas, will i be able to get it approved before the end of my 60-day grace period (I have 1.5 months left)? Or can i stay in the US beyond the grace period until the H-1B is approved or denied?

    I would really appreciate if anyone could help me with this issue.



    1. vig yanik

      Hi Deepak ,

      I was also in a similar situation (PhD / postdoc) and the answer is yes (however, IANAL). Your university (your employer) should file the I-129 within the 60-day grace period. It will be very tight in your case though, because everyone has to go through the LCA process first (since 2009 summer) – mine took 50 days. Even after the LCA is received, it will take an additional 8-10 business days before they can file your I-129.

      Good luck.

      1. Deepak

        Hello vig,

        Thanks a lot for your reply.

        Glad to find someone who has been in the same situation.

        Should i leave the US and wait for the H-1B to be approved or is there a way i can wait in the US until it gets approved?

        If possible, can you please briefly describe the visa processing/application process in a step-by-step fashion?

        It would be of great help, as i am very confused about this.



  44. Rahul

    Hi Saurabh,

    I completed my MBA in US and worked on OPT. After 8 months, my employer applied for H-1 last month and it is approved. Now, I am planning to enroll in a 6 month course and transfer my status from H-1 to F-1 and start working for a new employer on CPT.

    Now, for applying new H1, do I have to complete the 6 months course that I’ll be enrolling into or can I apply for new H-1 based on my old MBA degree?

    1. administrator

      After you complete your case, an employer can file cap-exempt H-1 petition for you on the basis of current H-1 petition. At the time of filing, you can submit all your degrees and marksheets including the one for this 6 month course.

      Make sure you are working and getting paid while you are on your current H-1 status. It may be important to demonstrate the same when filing for H-1 in future, and also during your F-1 COS filing.

      1. Rahul

        Thanks for your reply Saurabh. I really appreciate it.

        Do I have to complete the 6 months course when filing for H-1 with COS in future or can I file based on my old MBA degree?

        The reason I am asking this is because the course I am enrolling into is a 6 month course and I’ll apply for H1 when 3 months will be completed. So, technically the course would still be incomplete.

        1. administrator

          There are two factors:
          1. Whether your 6 month course is relevant to the job you will be doing on H-1. If yes, then it’s better to complete the course and then file for H-1 w/ COS.
          2. How soon you want to start working. I would suggest staying on F-1 for at least 90 days, and then deciding whether to start working by filing COS, or continuing the studies.

  45. Ram


    I am planning to join a Professional certificate program in UCSC. So, I will be on f-1 visa. I already have 5+ years of industry experience. Hence, to my understanding once I am F-1 visa I am also eligible to file for H1-B if I could manage to find a sponsoring company. Assuming that I find a sponsoring company to file my H1B within 6 months of being on F1 visa, is ok? Are employers usually willing to take an experienced professional directly from F1 (without OPT)? Any idea on rejection rates for F1 to H1B conversion without OPT?

    1. Nhat Nguyen

      Employers can hire you directly from F1 as they want to. As soon as you start working with an employer, you could apply for H1B under their sponsorship.
      That’s my understanding. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    2. administrator

      You can try to find employers willing to sponsor your H-1. How easy or difficult it would be depends upon your expertise, area and targeted industry. Also, as you will be applying for H-1 after staying on F-1 for at least 6 months, USCIS shouldn’t raise any concerns regarding your non-completion of the course.

      1. Ram

        Thanks Nhat & Saurabh.

        @ Saurabh, let me try to understand. Is it that being on F1-visa for 6 months before converting to H1B a problem? Or, non-completion of course? What kind of problems UCSC may raise in case of non-completion of course? In particular, can my non-completion of course affect my prospects of H1B approval?

        Thanks a ton

        1. administrator

          When one plans to move from F-1 to H-1 within 30 days of entering US, then there is a high chance of rejection and USCIS can question your intent. F-1 is meant for education, and if one moves to H-1 so soon then USCIS can consider that as misuse of F-1 visa. This concern gradually wears down as you continue to stay on F-1, and by 90 days it is no longer a concern. As you will be moving to H-1 after staying on F-1 for 6 months, it should no longer be an issue.

          Does that clarify?

  46. suman

    Hello All,
    Do anybody have information about the payroll while CAP-GAP period for F1.
    1) Am in CAP GAP Period, and my question is OPT taxes applies on my payroll or H1 taxes applies on my payroll, Please reply if anybody has some information.

    Thanks in advance

  47. Hajiyev

    If I have had J1 (section 212e applies) currently I am doing my OPT, am I eligible to switch my status from f1 to H1b? I am not interested in h1b visa I am interested in only changing my status from f1 to h1b. Please let me know if it is possible?

    Thank you.

  48. saurabh


    I have got H1B visa. and my opt expires on 10th jan 2012. so is there any rule about making a h1B stamping before opt period expires?
    or what is the last date to get stamping done?

    1. Gauvrav

      There is no rule like that. Your OPT period is no more valid as you have already moved to H1b status. Is you H1b approved w/COS? If yes, then do not worry. You can go got stamping anytime before the three year validity.

    2. administrator

      When your H-1 was approved, was it approved w/ COS or w/o COS (if it came w/ an I-94 attached to bottom then it was approved w/ COS). If it has been approved w/ COS then your status is H-1 from the approval date and you are no longer on OPT. If it didn’t come w/ COS, then you are still on OPT. Once your OPT expires, you will have to leave US (60 day grace period applies), or file for COS to H-1 or file for OPT STEM extension (if eligible).

  49. Kishore


    I got a situation, hope you guyz cal help me out here.
    My OPT EAD is from Sept 5, 2011 till Sep 4, 2012. Instead of using all my 90 day period (till Dec 5, 2011) to find a job, I joined a desi consultancy on Oct 20, 2011 to stop unemployment period. Now I got a full time job offer before getting a contract project from desi consultancy. Next week, I’ll be leaving this consultancy and joining full-time job.

    I want to know what all documents from desi consultancy will be required when my full time company is going to file H1B for 2012, as both are part of my OPT employment? Right now, I have offer letter from desi consultancy. Wondering whether they have any controlling power on my H1B processing!! Hope you response gives me relief.


      1. Kishore

        Thanks for reply. Just another quick question. How Govt knows whether I have been unemployed for not more than 90 days without start date and end date of each OPT employment??

        1. kishore

          USCIS get updated from your School. As you are supposed to update your international dept reg your employer join date, their e-verify number.
          Make sure you update your school when ever you change your employer, their e-verify number and your address. forget about your paystubs, as it can be voluntary work

          1. administrator

            Voluntary work is allowed only when there are other workers in similar position doing voluntary work. So one cannot work for company like Google voluntarily. But one can work for Red Cross voluntarily provided it is related to course work.

    1. administrator

      Payslips are required from your old employer. They should also issue a W2 for 2011. These documents will prove that you weren’t unemployed during that period.

        1. administrator

          Someone recently posted an experience on this blog that is related to yours. The person was on OPT for 27 months (OPT + Extension), then moved to H-1. His wife went for H-4 stamping and was asked to submit all payslips from the OPT period to see if the husband stayed in US w/o job for more than 120 days.

          So IMO, make sure you have the payslips, else you may run into trouble in future.

  50. Jun Bum Kim

    I am on OPT after my Bachelor’s, and plan to apply for new F1 visa next year for graduate school.
    My question is on what type of documents do you need as a proof of employment when you apply for F1 visa after OPT? Are offer letters alone sufficient? Or, do I need to go further and show a number of hours worked and so forth? For example,
    I am now working as an independent contractor for a company for a couple of weeks, but unable to get any business. Do I need more than the copy of contracts to prove employment when I apply for new F1 visa after my OPT ends?
    Thank you.

        1. Jun Bum Kim

          I am in the middle of job switch, and I am volunteering in a non-profit clinic so that I don’t use up unemployment days. And the hours at the clinic fluctuates. And, I am a little worried that I may become “illegal” without even knowing.

        2. administrator

          They might ask it to confirm whether you maintained valid legal status in US or not.

          Voluntary work on OPT is valid only if it is related to coursework and there are other employees in the company doing similar work voluntarily. It would be better to check w/ an immigration lawyer about your specific case and OPT job.

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