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Changing your Status from F-1 to H-1B

So you probably know a little on how the system works when you are trying to get an H-1B and are currently on an F-1 status. The first step (which most of you are very familiar with) is getting an Optional Practical Training (OPT). Your OPT gives you a year (or an extra 17 months for students in the STEM) to work and start preparing to have your employer file for an H-1B.


When can the employer file for the H-1B?


The government fiscal year starts on October 1 but the good news is that you can file your H-1B application six (6) months before the beginning of the fiscal year, i.e., on April 1. However, please take note that that the H-1B visa applicant cannot start working until after his/her OPT has expired.


My OPT expires before my H-1B gets authorized. What can I do?


Usually the trend we see is that prospective employers’ OPT ends on around April 1; before the H-1B start date on October 1. So USCIS has taken steps to ensure a smooth transition and address the “cap-gap”. USCIS allows students to file H-1B petition and seek a change of status and if their petition is accepted, USCIS authorizes an extension of the student’s authorized stay till the requested start date on the H-1B petition, which is usually October 1.

Please note that only the designated school official can process the Cap-Gap Extension I-20 on behalf of the student so it is imperative that you remain in contact with school officials. Usually the extension is for a period of 60 days and the Cap-Gap Extension applies to all F-1 students, regardless of their field of study.


How do I get an H-1B?


This is a complicated topic in itself but to simplify, first you would need an employment offer from a company or firm. Then, after verifying that you and the employment offer meet all the legal standards (you are in a specialty occupation, you have been offered prevailing wage and so forth), you are ready to proceed.  Before your employer can file an H-1B petition, a Labor Condition Application also needs to be submitted to Immigration Services.

You can already see that there are many steps that need to be taken before we even start the application process. Given applications are accepted beginning April 1, and since there is a quota that is filled quickly, we have a lot to do on our hands. So let us help you make this process easy so you don’t have to stress. Call us at 212-248-7907 and we can start the immigration process to help you start your very successful career!