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Ryan ZhangSep 13, 2023 12:00:00 AM4 min read

Change of Status to F-1 or B Visa, Which Works for You?

In a recent announcement that has garnered significant attention, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has unveiled an expansion to its Premium Processing service. This pivotal update now encompasses those aiming to apply for a change of status to F1, M, and J visas while residing within U.S. borders.

New change of status applications received from June 26 and onwards, should have the eligibility to submit premium processing application. Compare to regular change of status I-539 application (3-6 months in average), premium processing guarantees results within 30 days.

Hope for H1B Job Seekers

This update is a beacon of hope, especially for H1B visa holders who have faced layoffs. The prospect of switching to an F1 student status has now become more accessible and expedited, providing a swift pathway for them to alter their visa status and extend their U.S. legal status.

Reflecting on past processes, the journey hasn't always been smooth. Prior to this change of policy in the premium processing service, numerous individuals, predominantly those holding B and H visas, found themselves trapped in change of status waiting periods. Many recounted delays extending beyond six months before receiving any update on their change of status applications.

With the promise of results delivered within 30 days, the restructured premium processing service stands as a testament to efficiency.

People say “money doesn’t buy you time.”, and it does for this case. It’s $1,750 for “cutting the line”, and your I-539 application could speed up 2 month on average. But keep in mind that premium processing isn’t open for every I-539 application category. You could expedite change to F-1, H-1B, M-1, etc, but you can’t use premium processing on change to B, the vistor visa yet.

Change of Status to B Visa?

  • Application: I-539 form, explanation letter, $370 fee, $85 fingerprinting fee.

  • Per Legal Stay Duration: Generally up to 6 months per entry.

  • Purpose: B-1 for business visits (e.g., exhibitions, business meetings), B-2 for tourism, visiting relatives, medical treatment.

  • Flexibility: Can stay legally and travel in and out, no work or study requirements.

  • Limitations: Cannot work or engage in profit-making activities.

Change of Status to B Visa Pending?

If you choose to switch to B1/B2 and activate it while staying in the US, you can use the prolonged legal stay during COS (Change of Status) Pending to find a new job.

This is not a legal advice and does not encourage you to action. Please consult with a lawyer or contact us before making the decision.

If you find a new job during the COS Pending period, you can reactivate your original H1B without having to go through the lottery again.

However, this is not called an H1B Transfer. It's considered a new H1B.

On the I-129 form, you should write "new employment", instead of "change of employer"!

Moreover, you must wait for the H1B Approval Notice before you can start working. You can't start working just with the Receipt Notice.

At the same time, you should withdraw the change of status to B visa application.

This approach is doable, but there are many uncertainties, such as:

  • How long it will take to find a company that does H1B transfers.

  • How long it will take for the COS application to produce results.

  • The risks associated with the timing of the results for both the H1B and B visa applications.

Change of Status to F-1 Visa

  • Application: I-539 form, explanation letter, school admission, I-20, SEVIS fee of $350, and I-539 fee of $370 and $85 fingerprinting fee.

  • Duration: Generally 2-5 years, can stay as long as enrolled in school or participating in allowed OPT.

  • Purpose: Full-time student at U.S. higher education institutions, which also has opportunities such as tax exemptions, scholarships.

  • Responsibilities: Must maintain full-time student status, attend classes, complete assignments.

  • Benefits: Can work (CPT and OPT), part-time or full-time job opportunities, income.


In comparison between F-1 student visa and B visitor visa,they both hold solid advantages. For example, if you’re willing to change to B visa and looking for a new career during the pending stage, it grants you longer legal status. If you want to avoid any risks, changing to F-1 visa to better fulfill your career experience and goals through education and internship practices is the right path for you.

One thing to keep in mind is that F-1 visa could work legally through CPT but B visa doesn’t allow any forms of employment, as well as income. So if you’re planing to find a new career and on board ASAP, changing to F-1 could be smoother and post less risks for your later immigration process, for instance, H-1B and Green Card.


Interested in Day 1 CPT or having status issues, CPTDog’s consultants can help!