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As a student with an F-1 visa in the United States, transitioning from school to a job is an important, but complicated step. Whether you are about to graduate from an undergrad, masters, or doctorate program, you may be eligible for a change of status from F-1 to H-1B.
There are two ways to change your F-1 to H-1B status:
Many specialized fields want to see your skill level at work before they hire you. The OPT program allows you to have a job as a type of trial run for both you, the post-student worker, and the employer, who may hire you permanently.
OPT stands for Optional Practical Training. OPT to change of status H-1B allows graduating students to gain more experience in their field of study with a temporary job while still maintaining F-1 Student status.
There are two types of OPT for temporary employment:
Pre-completion OPT time with be deducted from the time given for post-completion OPT. The post-completion OPT can be up to 12 months — if you participated in pre-completion OPT for 3 months, then you would have a remaining 9 months of eligibility for post-completion OPT.
You can receive up to 12 months in the OPT program. Applying for OPT must be timely and accurate. Getting help from an experienced immigrant attorney can help ease the process and make sure requirements are submitted in a timely manner.
Students who are graduating with a STEM degree — that is with a degree in science, technology, engineering, or math — can OPT for a 24-month extension.
A minimum of a bachelor’s degree is required to obtain an H-1B “professional position.” For those with a bachelor’s degree or equivalent who would like to remain in the U.S., an F-1 OPT for transition to a specialized position can be an excellent opportunity.
Since the H-1B needs to be petitioned on your behalf from your employer, your OPT time is an opportunity to build a professional relationship with a potential future employee and H-1B petitioner.
An F-1 Visa is a nonimmigrant visa for academic students who wish to study in the United States. Once granted, F-1 visas lasts for the entire duration of the academic program you are in. The institution you attend must be approved by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).
An H-1B Visa is a visa for professional workers. To obtain an H-1B visa, your job position must require a bachelor’s degree or higher in a specialized area. Your job must have complex details which only you can perform because of your specialization. Your employer or future employer must petition for your H-1B.
Advantage of an F-1 with OPT
Disadvantages of an F-1
Advantages of H-1B
Disadvantages of H-1B
Your F-1 visa to H-1B visa conversion needs to be done in a timely manner. The OPT status change involves lots of people and moving parts. It’s important to be ahead of the game when applying for OPT so you have a smooth transition from F-1 to H-1B.
When approaching the end of your degree, you must:
The OPT program is a temporary work position, meaning you need to be employed during your OPT time. You are given 90 total days of unemployment during your 12-month OPT time span. If you are in the STEM OPT, you have 120 total days (30 additional from OPT).
The next issue of timeliness surrounds the application deadline for H-1B visas. These nonimmigrant visas have a cap and application cycle. Speak to your immigration lawyer about H1B dates for the upcoming year.
To apply for OPT and H-1B, you must have the following:
Students in different fields of study may face different levels of difficulty in meeting the job function standards. H-1B visas call for specialized positions. A student with a bachelor’s degree is not necessarily eligible for an H-1B visa. The job position must call for a specific degree specialized for the particular job description and duties. STEM and other graduates must OPT into H-1B position in the specialization they graduated with.
Working with an immigration lawyer can help you apply for an F-1 OPT to H-1B visa. The process of applying for OPT, finding a specialized position, and applying for an H-1B within a limited time frame can be overwhelming. The lawyers at Scott Pollock & Associates P.C. are here to help you every step of the way. Contact us today to start your journey from student to worker in the United States.View Similar Articles