H1B to F1 change of status process – [2022]

H1B to F1

H1B to F1 change of status process – [2022]

You often hear people talking about changing from F1 to H1B status, and rightfully so. Because it is a common occurrence and a natural progression in one’s immigration journey in the USA. However, there are situations in which one wants to change from H1B to F1 status. You are probably wondering why someone would forego the H1B status that is acquired after jumping through hoops like winning the H1B lottery and answering RFEs. But the last few years of the COVID 19 pandemic witnessed an increase in the H1B to F1 change of status mainly due to the loss of employment because of the lockdown. In such situations, changing your visa status to F1 can earn you some time to look for a new job and get settled. Meanwhile, getting a degree during this period can take you to the next level of your career. Also, if you have enrolled in a STEM course, you have higher options to work under OPT or CPT during your studentship.

Reasons for H1B to F1 change of status:

  • You want to take a break from the job and go back to college to get an MBA or a Masters or a PhD degree. Getting a degree opens the door to new opportunities and helps you move up the ranks in the organization or give you an opportunity to pivot to a new line of work. And you can convert back from F1 to H1B after completing your program without going through the lottery process again.
  • You are in the 6th year of H1B and your employer hasn’t filed the labor and I-140 petition. You want to stay back in the US and earn a degree by going back to college.
  • Your H1B extension is at risk of denial or is already denied and you want to stay legally in the US by enrolling in a University.
  • You are laid off from your H1B job. If you are laid off, you will have 60 days to find another job or leave the country. You can also go back to school to get another degree by converting to F1 status.

Change of status from H1 to F1 involves two steps. You should secure admission and get an I-20 from a SEVP approved school and then apply for a change of status from H1B to F1. You could use the help of a career counselor like skoolville.com for finding the right University and program. Soolville.com can suggest universities that best meets your requirements and that can issue I-20 quickly.

In order to apply for a change of status from H1B to F1, you need to be in a valid status. Your current status should remain valid until at least 30 days prior to the start date of the classes listed on I-20. You can start attending classes while your H1B to F1 status is pending with USCIS but you must remain in valid status until the COS is approved. USCIS processing times indicates that Change of Status petitions can take anywhere from 3 months to 9 months for approval. If you anticipate that your current H1B status expires before the COS is approved, you must file another Change of Status petition to bridge the gap between H1B expiration date and the class begin date. Please read the USCIS guidelines regarding change of status to F1 visa and consult an experienced immigration attorney to take steps to avoid being out of status.

Documents required for H1B to F1 Change of Status:

  • Copy of I-20 from a SEVP approved school
  • I-901 Sevis fee RECEIPT
  • Copy of passport
  • Copy of all prior H1B approvals
  • Copy of I-94
  • Copy of pay stubs
  • Financial Affidavit with proof of funds to cover the cost of education shown in I-20
  • Cover letter indicating the reasons for the change of status from H1B to F1.

You may also leave the country and get your F1 visa stamped at a US consulate to change from H1B to F1 status instead of applying the Change of Status while remaining in the USA.

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