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The Beginner's Manual on Change of Status From F-1 to H-1B
May 5, 2022
4 mins
Mockup of a student visa- F1 visa for the United States of America in vector form

You will read about the following points in this article:

  • Elements involved in F-1 to H-1B visa status change
  • Changing from F-1 status to H-1B: an overview
  • Documentation required

Important Elements Involved in F-1 to H-1B Change of Status

The F-1 visa

The F-1 is an education-based visa that allows international students to pursue their education in the US. There are two ways to get an F-1 visa:

  • Change of visa status from a different status while residing in the US, or
  • Applying for consular processing at a US consulate or embassy office outside the USA.

The H-1B visa

The H-1B is an employment-based temporary visa allotted to specially qualified non-immigrants who have at least a four-year degree and are qualified for a specialty occupation.

Changing From F-1 Status to H-1B: an Overview

Changing from F-1 status to H-1B: How it happens

You have two options to make a visa status change from F-1 to H-1B when you are ready to pursue a specialty occupation after your education in the US.

  1. You can apply for a direct change of visa status from F-1 to H-1B if you meet all the eligibility criteria for the H-1B visa, like finding H-1B employment or,
  2. You could choose an OPT interim and use the F-1 to OPT, and then OPT to H1B change of status. This will give you a chance to gain practical exposure to your chosen field of study while searching for H-1B employment.

Changing from F-1 status to H-1B: When Does it Happen?

Students can apply for the change from F-1 to H-1B once they have completed their course of study and have an H-1B job. If they have enrolled in the OPT program, they can still apply for the H-1B anytime they have fulfilled the eligibility criteria for H-1B, during OPT, or once the OPT is completed.

Also Read: The Complete Guide to Change of Status for H1B Visa

Changing from F-1 status to H-1B: Requirements

Here are the criteria you need to fulfill to be eligible to apply for an F-1 to H-1B visa status change:

  • You should have maintained your F-1 status by fulfilling required attendance in classes, maintaining grades, and abiding by other laws related to an F-1 visa.
  • You must possess a job offer from a company based in the US.
  • The job must fulfill the eligibility for the specialty occupation requirement. One of these is that a candidate can only perform it with a four-year college degree.
  • The company offering you employment must clearly show legitimacy and ability to provide employment and payment for three years.

Changing from F-1 status to H-1B: The Process

The process for changing visa status to H-1B is similar to the regular H-1B petitioning process. As in regular filing, the employer has to initiate and follow the process to completion. This will involve:

  • Filing for LCA with the US Department of Labor once the H-1B petition has been filed.
  • Complete and file the correct form. Here it is important to make sure that you fill in the Application for Extension or Change of Status form.
  • Complete the documentation file for submission.

Changing from F-1 status to H-1B: Processing Time

Normal processing times for a status change to H1B could be a few weeks to a few months. It is entirely dependent on the petition load at the USCIS. The only way to look for a guaranteed timeline is by opting for Premium Processing, which will expedite your case and guarantee a response within fifteen business days.

All status updates are updated online, and decisions are communicated to the employer. If your petition is approved, the status change will reflect, and your H-1B term starts in October.

Documents Required for Change of Status Application

Here is a comprehensive list of documents you will require to apply for change of status from F1 to H1B visa stamping:

  • Employment offer from the H-1B employer
  • A biodata with your biographic information like full name, including surnames or given names, place, date of birth, marital status, etc.
  • Copy of an updated CV
  • A detailed description of the job being offered with a complete percentage allocation
  • Clear copy of passport pages
  • Educational qualification certificate
  • All relevant transcripts showing your performance in academics
  • Additional certifications
  • Commercially available information about your sponsoring company like brochures or catalogs
  • Record of awards you received related to the field of expertise
  • Letters of experience detailing dates and titles of previous employment
  • Clear copy of the I-20 form
  • Clear copy of your I-94
  • A clear copy of your Employment Authorization Card, if applicable.

FAQ: Can I switch from F-1 to H-1B without OPT?

It is possible to apply for a status change to H-1B as long as you fulfill the criteria. The OPT can be considered an interim period which you can choose if you haven't been able to gain H-1B employment or fulfill other criteria.

In conclusion

The status change from F-1 to H-1B can be made effective through the steps above. Since this is a specialty employment visa, the employer must carry out most of the procedures. So your task will be to find the right employer and support the employer in filing for a change of status in time.

Visit TechFetch H1B to get more information regarding change of status for H1B Visa.

**Disclaimer: Immigration rules change from time to time. For latest updates, always refer to the official USCIS website.**

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