Due to COVID-19, H1B holders faced a more complex situation. The global pandemic impacted some businesses forcing them to shut down. It left many H1B holders without a job and made it harder to find another sponsoring employer to maintain their valid legal status.
While there are various other visas, from dependent visas such as H-4 to J1 or F1 student visas, L1 exchange work visas, etc., H1B visa appears to be the most attractive.
Recent changes in eligibility for H-1B status have made getting this visa a bit harder. But, don’t worry! The good news is that you can extend your stay in the U.S. by changing your visa status from H1B visa to an F1 student visa. This change will help you enhance your skills and provide you with enough time to decide what you want to do next while still staying in the U.S.
In this article, you will learn how to change your status from H1B visa to an F1 student visa.
H1B Visa and F1 Visa
Before we dive deeper into the details and understand the visa status change process, let’s first learn more about each of these visas.
What Is an H-1B Visa?
The H-1B visa temporarily allows foreign workers to engage with U.S. employers in various specialized occupations. These occupations, generally, require that the foreign worker is well-skilled in the field and has a bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience to be considered.
An H-1B visa allows you to remain in the U.S. for three years and extend it to six years. Once you have completed the maximum stay in the country on an H-1B visa, you might need to reapply based on your circumstances.
However, gaining an H-1B visa is not easy due to the limited number of H-1B visas issued each year.
What Is an F1 Student Visa?
The F1 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows international students to pursue educational studies at universities and colleges, high schools, language training programs, or similar academic institutions in the U.S.
To get the F1 visa, students can apply at a U.S. consulate abroad in your home country to seek admission as an international student. If you are a citizen of a country where no visa is required, you may proceed directly to a U.S. port of entry.
It is important to remember that immigration officer issues F1 visas solely to obtain an education and it cannot be used as work visas. Students entering the U.S. on an F1 visa cannot engage in full-time employment.
Still, international students can engage in optional practical training OPT while they attend school and be able to work for around 20 hours per week on campus during an active school session and full-time during recess.
However, if you want this possibility, you will have to obtain prior permission from the Department of Homeland Security and the school’s International Office first and avoid working illegally on an F1 visa without prior permission. Any such action and engaging in the work before the start date noted on your permission could result in deportation.
How Can You Go from H1B To an F1?
If you are in the U.S. in valid nonimmigrant status for a purpose other than to pursue educational studies and want to change your nonimmigrant status to a student status while remaining in the U.S., you must meet specific criteria and apply with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to change your status.
Generally, you can apply to change your nonimmigrant status while remaining in the United States if:
- You were lawfully admitted to the U.S. in a nonimmigrant status;
- You maintain your nonimmigrant status valid;
- You have not violated the conditions of your status;
- You have not committed any crimes or engaged in any other actions that would make you ineligible for a status change.
How to Apply for F1 Visa Status?
If you want to attend a U.S. university or college with an F1 visa, you need to complete the required paperwork and pay the required fees. You need to take the following steps:
- Get acceptance in a letter from the college or university. Prepare a copy of a signed I-20 form stating the duration of your student status and the department you will be enrolling yourself. Do not forget to sign the Student Attestation section.
- Fill out the I-539 form and pay a $370 filing fee as a check payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Also, you may have to pay an additional $85 to get the biometrics done. Next, USCIS will keep you updated on where you need to show up for giving your blood and hair sample, fingerprints, and retina scan.
- Pay another check for your I-901 SEVIS fee.
- Provide financial evidence to assure the authorities that you will be able to support your studies financially during the course duration.
- Provide other essential documents: a copy of your I-94 and photocopies of the I-797, your passport, immigration documents, etc.
- Order these documents in a folder, and send them to the USCIS.
Process of Transfer from H1B to F1 Student Status
It’s imperative not to presume that your request to change your status has been approved until you receive notice of approval from USCIS. To be eligible and get the approval, you must first:
- File application and receive acceptance from a U.S. Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school.
- Obtain an initial Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, (COS application)from the SEVP-certified school. The Designated School Official will give you a change of status in the Issue Reason section of the Form I-20.
- Pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee.
- Submit a Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.
Maintain A Valid Nonimmigrant Status
Keep in mind that you must maintain a valid H1B status while your Form I-539 change of status application is pending with USCIS.
H1B to F1 Visa Processing Times
You can wait for several months or even more for the entire H1B to F1 status procedure to end. But do not get discouraged! Make sure you provide USCIS with a correct return address that will not change shortly. This will help them contact you with the positive or negative outcome.
If you plan to return to your home country and re-enter later, you could also state your friend’s or relative’s address for easy communication.
Get Help For Understanding U.S. Immigration laws
If you need help navigating complex immigration laws and procedures and your visa status changed, we can help and work closely with you.
On the path to obtain any type of visa or a green card, and eventually go to naturalization, it’s good to have the steady hand of an experienced immigration lawyer to navigate the rough waters of U.S. immigration law.
The Herman Legal Group has over 25 years experience in working with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The team is friendly, professional and want to help. Leverage their experience for your case.
Schedule a consultation with one of the experienced immigration lawyers at Herman Legal Group by calling 1-800-808-4013 or 1-216-696-6170, or by booking online. Consultations can be conducted by zoom, skype, whatsapp, facetime, or in-office.