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Change of Status from H1B to F1 Visa: The Complete Details
May 7, 2022
5 mins
A group of students holding the flag of the USA stands on the campus of a university

Our blog explores the following topics related to:

  • Reason for H1 to F1 COS
  • Steps to apply for F1 COS
  • Documents required
  • How to apply for an F1 visa from outside the US

Before exploring the reasons and options for change of status from H1B to F1, let us understand what change of status means for H1B visa.

What are the H1B & F1 Visas?

Are you caught in a stick visa situation with the recent US Immigration laws changes? You are not alone! Many H1B holders like yourself are out of jobs thanks to the pandemic, which forced layoffs in many organizations. Of course, you know that without a valid H1B status, you cannot stay in the US. Does that mean it's the end of the road for your dreams to live and work in the US? Certainly not.

Amongst other choices, one good option is to have your visa status changed from H1B to F1. Here's a quick explanation of what these two visas denote.

The H1B Visa

The H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa granted to any foreigner who wishes to work for a US-based employer. The H1B visa has an initial validity of three years, which can be extended to an additional three years, totaling a duration of six years. You can work temporarily in various specialty occupations listed under the USCIS regulations during this time.

The F1 Visa

F1 Visa is a non-immigrant visa issued to anyone who wants to pursue education in the US. An F1 visa does not allow you to work in a full-time job in the US. It can only be used to pursue education in educational institutions within the US. However, the F1 allows you to work 20 hours per week on campus during the school session. You may also work full time ONLY during recess. To do so, you must obtain permission from the Department of Homeland Security and your school's International Office.

It has become common practice to apply for a change of status from H1 to F1. Evidently, there are many reasons why people want to change from H1B to F1 visa. Let's take a look.

Reasons for Change of Status from H1B to F1

  • To resume education to obtain an MBA, Master's degree, or Ph.D. Apparently, obtaining a higher educational degree opens doors to better job opportunities with better salaries and higher job ranks. Also, once you've completed your course, you can apply for an H1B without having to go through the H1B lottery process.
  • Loss of a job allows you to get an F1 status and return to the university to pursue your education.
  • To remain in the United States and pursue a degree because the H1B validity will expire and the employer hasn't filed the I-140 petition and LCA with the USCIS.
  • To enroll in a University in the US because of the possibility of denial or denial of H1B extension.

Whatever the reason is, the process to apply for a Change of Status to F1 from H1B is the same. Here's how it goes.

Steps to Apply for Change of Status from H1B to F1

Step 1: Apply to an United States Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school and receive its acceptance.

Step 2: Obtain the following:

  • Form I-20
  • Certificate of Eligibility from non-immigrant student status from the SEVP-certified school
  • Change of Status issued by the Designated School Official (DSO) in Form I-20's Issue Reason section.

Step 3: Make the I-901 SEVIS fee payment.
Step 4: File Form I-539 or Application to Extend/Change Non-Immigration Status
Step 5: Issue a check for $370 to the US Department of Homeland Security
Step 6: Pay $85 for biometric testing.

It is important that you:

  • Affirm your H1B validity while your Form I-539 is still pending.
  • Apply early because COS processing can take upto 3 or 8 months.
  • Keep in touch with your school's DSO to align your applying for COS and enrolling in a study course.

You can also attend college while your F1 COS is still in abeyance, provided your H1B is still valid.

List of Documents Required for COS from H1B visa to F1

To apply for a COS from H1B visa to F1, you will need the following documents:

  • Copy of I-94
  • Copy of I-20 from a SEVP-certified school
  • Fee receipt for I-901 Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)
  • Copy of your valid passport
  • Copy of previous H1B approvals
  • Copy of pay checks
  • Cover letter stating the reasons for the change of status.
  • Financial Affidavit with proof of funds to cover the education expenses shown in I-20

Premium Processing Service

To avail of H1 to F1 Change of Status Premium Processing, you must

  • File Form I-907
  • Pay $1,750

Under Premium Processing, your COS will be processed within 30 days of application. The premium processing fee is in addition to the standard application or petition filing fee.

All the above-mentioned details will help you apply for COS from H1B to F1 if you still reside in the US. What if you have left the US on a valid H1B and want to change to an F1 visa? Here's how you do it.

How to Apply for An F1 Visa from Abroad

It is also possible to leave the US and get the stamp for your F1 visa at a U.S. consulate to change from H1B status to F1status. You must:

  • Apply to and receive from a SEVP-certified school and obtain acceptance.
  • Get your Form I-20 from the school's Designated School Officer.
  • Pay your I-901 fees for SEVIS.
  • Leave the US and obtain your F1 visa at your US Embassy or Consulate. (You will not get your F1 visa in the US while away from the country.)
  • Arrive in the US no earlier than a month before the start date mentioned in Section 5 on the Initial I-20.
  • Present your I-20 and F1 visa to the officer at the port of entry.
  • Review and print your I-94 information indicating the words "F1" and "D/S" after returning to the US.
  • Meet the International Student and Scholar Services soon after returning to the US. Failure to do so will result in the termination of your F1 status.

If you want to extend your H1B status, applying for COS to F1 visa could open other promising opportunities. So, do not waste time. Apply for COS and wait for the results.

Also Read: The Beginner's Manual on Change of Status From F-1 to H-1B

Have difficulties, queries, or doubts regarding a Change of Status? Visit TechFetch H1B. There's no better source than TechFetch H1B to guide you with information in this process.

**Disclaimer:  All information related to H1B is subject to change. Please refer to the official USCIS website for further updates.

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