In this article, you will read about:
International students in the US study and live in the country on an F-1 visa. As their studies progress, they may start considering a more permanent option. For this, they will have to explore their options of a change in visa status. Changing an F-1 visa to an H-1B is a popular option because of the many benefits the H-1B provides, but it can also be challenging. The H-1B is an employment visa for specialty occupations, so there is a challenge in gaining employment in a job certified as a 'specialty occupation' for the H1B visa. Let's discuss how the change of status works and how you can set the premium processing option in motion.
Before you start reading about the change of status premium processing, read to know more about the Change of Status From F-1 to H-1B.
The F-1 Visa
The F-1 is a visa category reserved for international students who wish to pursue schooling or higher education in the USA. It is valid for the entire course of the chosen educational program.
There are two ways to obtain an F-1 status for study in the US. These are:
With the F-1 visa in hand, students can pursue their education to completion. Many students then explore their options for changing their status from the F-1 to an H-1B to continue pursuing a career with the educational qualifications they obtain on graduation. There are two options available to F-1 visa holders to change status to H-1B. They can:
The H-1B visa
The H-1B is an employment-based visa for non-immigrants who qualify for 'specialty occupations' in engineering, IT, architecture, finance, etc. You will need the following documentation for filing an H-1B petition:
OPT - Optional Practical Training for International Students
Students on an F-1 visa can gain practical experience in their field of study through the Optional Practical Training program. This could also be a transitional phase as they try to gain employment in an H-1B job role.
Also Read: Change of status premium processing
Most students begin their search for H-1B employment near the end of their course of study. The prospective employer can act as the sponsoring entity that will provide full-time employment and begin getting your H-1B status. Given below is a run-down of the steps involved in the Change of Visa status from F-1 to H-1B:
Step 1: The candidate obtains an offer of employment from an H-1B employer who will act as a sponsor. The candidate may have begun work on an OPT status or attended interviews to obtain the offer.
Step 2: The candidate must gather all the documentation needed to file the H-1B petition. These will then be passed on to the employer to begin the H-1B filing process.
Step 3: Your employer can file the I-129 for Change of Status depending on your qualifications. If you have a bachelor's degree or equivalent, I-129 will be filed under the general category or the H-1B Masters quota if you have an advanced degree from the US.
Step 4: Ensure that the sponsoring employer files the I-129 under the Change of Status category.
Step 5: It is now time to prepare for the H-1B draw. Ensure that the petition was filed in time for the F-1 to change to H-1B before expiry.
Step 6: Processing can take anywhere from weeks to months. If you are short on time or want to gain guaranteed results in fifteen days, the Premium Processing option is the best next step. Your employer can file the I-907 and the Premium Processing fees of USD 2500, optionally by check payable to the Department of Homeland Security. Make sure to note that Premium Processing is a completely optional step.
Step 7: Once the filing process is complete, the USCIS will decide on your file and send your employer notice of their decision. If everything is in order, the USCIS will approve your status change, and your F-1 visa will be changed to the H-1B.
If an OPT interim were involved, it would stand void when the H-1B has been approved, even if there is a remaining validity period.
A change of visa status from F-1 to H-1B may not be simple, but it is possible with proper guidance if you follow the steps above. Most of the process needs to be initiated and carried forward by your sponsoring employer. Therefore, your main task is identifying and gaining employment with the right H-1B employer. If you can do this successfully, you could have your F-1 status changed to an H-1B in about fifteen days on the Premium Processing stream.
For legitimate information regarding H1B visas and passport updates, check TechFetch H1B.
**Disclaimer: H1B rules and regulations keep changing from time to time. For updated information, always refer to the USCIS official website.**