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H1B Extension or Change of Status

If you’re in the United States on an H1B visa, your status is heavily dependent on your employment, making it challenging to maintain if you are:

In this Article

We will explain how H1B holders can maintain and extend their legal status in the U.S. by changing their visa status, comparing various options and focusing on the two most popular choices: changing from H1B to F1 and H1B to B1/B2. This article will discuss the advantages and disadvantages, restrictions, potential risks, application procedures, waiting times, and costs associated with these two types of visa status changes. It will also include a FAQ section that addresses the most commonly asked questions. While the change of status process is generally safe and boasts a high approval rate, any immigration-related procedure can potentially lead to future complications. If you plan to stay in the U.S. long-term and are aiming for a green card, it's crucial to read through this information and seek professional guidance before proceeding.


Understand H1B Visa 

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that enables U.S. employers to hire foreign workers temporarily for specialty occupations. To qualify for an H-1B visa, candidates must possess at least a bachelor’s degree or higher in a field related to the occupation, which typically includes sectors like IT, finance, engineering, and more.

Employers wishing to sponsor an H-1B visa must first submit a Labor Condition Application (LCA) to the Department of Labor (DOL), followed by the H-1B petition to USCIS. The process is competitive and adheres to an annual cap, making timely submission and compliance with all eligibility requirements crucial.

The H1B visa is tied closely to your employment, meaning your legal residency in the U.S. is dependent on your employer — the one who filed your H-1B petition. Should challenges arise, such as financial troubles faced by your sponsor, a merger with another company, or if your performance falls below expectations, it could result in your termination under the H-1B status. In the event of lay off, H1B visa holders are granted a 60-day grace period. This critical window allows you time to explore alternative avenues to maintain your legal presence in the United States.

Understand H1B Grace Period

The 60-day grace period allows H1B employees to stay in the U.S. but does not permit them to work. It is also crucial to understand that the grace period cannot exceed 60 days. If an H1B employee does not find a new employer within this timeframe, they must either depart from the U.S. or risk accruing unlawful presence.

What if you can't find another H1B sponsor and also don't want to leave the country? 

A common strategy is to apply for a change of status to a different nonimmigrant visa, such as B2, F1, O1, L1, or E visa, or a dependent visa like H4 or F2, by filing an application with USCIS. Applicants must meet the eligibility requirements for the new visa category they are seeking.

Each new visa comes with its own set of rights and restrictions. Some options may be more suitable if continuing to work is your primary goal. Under certain circumstances, changing your status could provide access to additional forms of work authorization. When these changes are managed properly, they create opportunities for individuals to legally maintain their employment in the United States.

H1B Change of Status Options Compare


Changing Type
Pros - Key Benefits 
Cons - Restrictions &
Potential Risks
H1B to F1
  • Opt for Premium Processing: Reduces processing time to 30 days.
  • Continue working with Day 1 CPT: Offers minimal gap time compared to other options.
  • Family members can apply to F2
  • Enrollment required at an institution; must select the right one as not all accredited schools have enrollment periods that align with your schedule.
  • Tuition payments are necessary.
  • Must manage studies alongside work if using Day 1 CPT.
H1B to B2 / H1B to B1
  • Easy to apply
  • No tuition required (compared to H1B to F1 transition)
  • No employer sponsorship needed (compared to H1B to O or L visas)
  • No spouses required (compared to transitioning to dependent visas from H1B)
  • Premium Processing not available; processing times are unpredictable, usually takes 3-8 months
  • Unable to work during or after the transition, but permitted to job search.
  • You may encounter a situation where, due to extended processing times, the actual duration of stay granted by a USCIS officer upon approval is significantly less than six months.
H1B to H4
  • Eligible to work if the primary H1B holder has an approved I-140.
  • Must have a family member who is the primary H1B visa holder.
  • If primary H1B visa holder does not filed I-140, H4 cannot apply for EAD card
  • As a dependent visa, the H4's validity is closely tied to the status of the primary H1B holder. If the H1B holder is laid off, the H4 holder has a 60-day grace period. If there is a divorce from the H1B holder, the H4 holder has no grace period and must leave the country immediately.
H1B to O1 / L1
  • Eligible to work
  • Need sponsors. Usually not applicable if it is in the case of being laid off

H1B Change of Status Free Consultation

H1B to F1

H1B to F1 Change of Status

Key Benefits of Choosing to Transition to F1 Status

F1 status offers distinct features and benefits, including the ability to pursue full-time study, work on-campus, and engage in practical training related to your field of study.

Fast Processing Time

Opting for Premium Processing streamlines the transition from H1B to F1 status to a swift 30-day period, encompassing any necessary time for a Request for Evidence (RFE) should your application require it. Throughout this expedited process, you are granted the legal right to remain within the U.S. borders, affording you the uninterrupted opportunity to secure an appropriate employer.

Work Authorization While Studying

One advantage of the F1 visa is the opportunity it provides for work authorization through CPT. 

  • Day 1 CPT: CPT work authorization during program enables you to engage in employment, typically in the form of internships or positions directly related to your field of study. In general, this opportunity is available after you’ve completed your first academic year. Day 1 CPT programs, however, represent a forward-thinking approach to integrating work and study from the very beginning of your academic program. This immediate immersion enables you to seamlessly re-enter the job market once you secure a new employer.
  • Another OPT: Should you choose to advance your education by enrolling in a program that is a step up from your last degree, you unlock the opportunity for OPT post-graduation once more. For those diving into STEM programs, this benefit can be extended, offering you up to an impressive 36 months of OPT.

Easy to Change back to H1B & No Long-Term Risks

While the process of changing status is indeed legal, it requires substantial and persuasive justification. Without this, there could be long-term complications for your immigration journey. From an immigration standpoint, transitioning from H1B to F1 status is often seen as a more rational choice compared to other status changes. It's a common and understandable desire to return to academia for further studies after gaining some professional experience, as this can significantly broaden your career prospects and enhance your professional growth.

H1B to F1 Change of Status in 4 Steps

Get Admitted by a SEVIP-Certified University

Secure an acceptance letter from a SEVP certified college or university. Considering the common reasons for the H1B to F1 Change of Status (COS) and the time-sensitive nature of this change, Day 1 CPT universities stand out as the best options. Their benefits include:

  • six start dates annually
  • competitive tuition fees
  • immediate access to CPT work authorization
I-20 & SEVIS Fee

Request an I-20 from your Day 1 CPT universities' admission office and pay $350 SEVIS fee on USCIS's official I-901 Fee Payment site

I-539 & Supporting Documents

Complete form I-539 online and submit the following supporting documents:

🔸Acceptance letter from a U.S. college or university.
🔸Signed I-20 form indicating the duration of the program. Make sure the Student Attestation section is signed.
🔸I-901 SEVIS fee payment receipt.
🔸Financial documents demonstrating your ability to financially support yourself throughout the duration of your academic program.
🔸Additional supporting documents, such as:
-A copy of the current I-94 form.
-Photocopies of any existing I-797 forms.
-Photocopy of your passport.
I-907 (If Needed)

To expedite your Change of Status (COS) application, consider adding a Form I-907 for premium processing to your Form I-539 submission, at an additional fee of $1,965.

H1B to F1 Change of Status - Cost and Processing Time


  • On-line Submission: $420
  • Submit by mail: $470
  • Premium Processing: $1,965
  • Legal service fee: $200- $500/hour [$1500 Flat Fee with CPTDog]

Processing Time

  • 30 months with PP
  • 3 - 8 months without PP
  • In case of RFE: with PP - 30 days / without PP 12-16 months

H1B to F1 Change of Status - Challenges and Solutions

Evidence of Financial Support

As indicated above, you’ll need to provide evidence of financial support for F1 approval. Financial support can come from various sources such as personal savings, property, employment income, or external funds. You should collect evidence like bank statements or stock certificates. If you’re submitting evidence of recent large deposits to your accounts, make sure you provide a clear explanation to clarify the source and avoid any suspicion of temporary inflation of your funds.

Proof of your financial stability can also include the employment details of family members willing to support you. This evidence can include employment verification letters or income tax statements. The evidence should demonstrate a steady and reliable source of income, confirming their ability to support your studies and stay in the United States. Family members can pledge their financial support using Form I-134.

Assets that you can easily convert into cash are also valuable in proving your financial readiness. Real estate, for example, can represent a significant, provided you have clear evidence of ownership and value. If necessary, obtaining a professional appraisal can clarify the worth of the asset, helping to ensure immigration authorities will accept the asset as proof.

If you have any scholarships, grants, or loans, independent confirmation beyond the Form I-120 is required, generally through notification letters from the funding source.

Impact on Dependents

If you have any dependents holding an H4 visa, their visa status will be directly affected when you shift from H1B to F1:

  • Loss of H4 status: Since the H4 visa status is dependent on the H1B status of the primary visa holder, H4 dependents will lose their status when you change status to F1.
  • Application for a Change of Status: To change from H4 to F2 status, the dependent must file Form I-539 with the USCIS. This process includes providing proof of the F1 visa holder’s valid student status and evidence of their relationship to the F1 holder.
  • Impact on Employment and Study: While H4 dependents may be eligible for work authorization under certain conditions, F2 dependents are not allowed to work under any circumstances. However, F2 dependents can engage in part-time study or enroll in recreational or vocational studies.


Choosing the Right Academic Program

Transitioning to F1 status to enroll in a Day 1 CPT program offers international students the unique opportunity to gain practical work experience throughout the duration of their program. Critical steps for selecting the right university and Day 1 CPT program include ensuring the accreditation of the school, making sure the program aligns with your career goals, and considering location and costs.

Accreditation and Legitimacy

When deciding on a Day 1 CPT program, make sure you first check the accreditation and legitimacy of the university. Accreditation from a recognized body confirms that the university meets established educational standards, guaranteeing that your degree will be acknowledged by employers and other educational institutions.

Program Relevance

Selecting a program that aligns with your career aspirations and interests is critical. Look for programs that offer practical experience in your areas of professional interest. This will not only enrich your learning experience but also prepare you for future job opportunities. Day 1 CPT programs span the fields of business, computer science, information technology, and beyond.


The location of the university plays an important role in your academic and personal life. Factors such as proximity to potential job markets, cost of living, and lifestyle preferences may all influence your decision. Choosing a location that aligns with your professional and personal goals can improve your learning and working experience. Keep in mind that many Day 1 CPT programs have minimal onsite requirements–sometimes as little as one weekend per semester–meaning that you can potentially work in locations farther from the university.

Tuition and Fees

Understanding and comparing tuition fees across various Day 1 CPT programs may be important, depending on your financial situation. Program tuition can range from under $18,000 at institutions like New England College to nearly $50,000 at institutions like Dallas Baptist University.

Investigating available financial aid options, scholarships, and grants tailored to international students can both alleviate the financial strain associated with higher education and ensure you make an informed decision based on financial sustainability and academic value.

H1B to B1/B2

H1B to B1/B2 Change of Status

Key Features of B1/B2 Status

B1 and B2 visas are nonimmigrant visas for visitors to the United States, offering numerous benefits for travelers. The B1 visa facilitates business activities like attending conferences, while the B2 visa is ideal for tourism, visiting family, or medical treatment.

Broad Range of Activities

The B1 visa for business purposes covers a broad range of permitted activities:

  • Business consultations and meetings: You may enter the United States to consult with business associates or discuss planned investments or purchases.
  • Attendance at scientific or professional conferences: You can participate in conventions to exchange knowledge, network with colleagues, and stay updated on industry trends.
  • Contract negotiations: You may visit the United States to negotiate or finalize contracts with U.S. companies.
  • Short-term training: You can take part in professional training sessions that are unavailable in your home country, provided you do not receive payment from a U.S. source.

The B2 visa similarly allows for a range of activities, only for non-business purposes:

  • Tourism or holiday visits: You can explore the United States, visit its numerous landmarks, or simply enjoy leisure time away from home.
  • Visiting friends and relatives: You may spend time with family members or friends living in the United States.
  • Medical treatment: If you’re seeking medical treatment not available in your home country, you can receive care in the United States, including consultations, surgeries, or rehabilitation.
  • Participation in social events: Engaging in events hosted by social or service organizations offers cultural exchange and community involvement.

No Employer Sponsorship Required

B1 and B2 visas are distinct from many other nonimmigrant classifications in that they do not require employer sponsorship for approval. Applicants must demonstrate the purpose of their visit and ensure compliance with visa conditions, independently of employer involvement.

Unlike employment-based nonimmigrant visas, where an employer must petition on an applicant’s behalf, B1 and B2 visa applicants directly apply and justify their intent to a U.S. consulate.

No Tuition is Required

Switching to a B1/B2 visa stands in contrast to the F1 visa process. Opting for a B1/B2 visa means you can bypass the complexities of the educational system—there's no need to deal with school applications, enrollment duties, academic assignments, or worry about paying tuition fees.

B1/B2 Restrictions & Long-Term Affects 

The U.S. Department of State oversees the enforcement of visa policies, including travel restrictions for B1/B2 visa holders. These measures aim to regulate the activities of nonimmigrant visitors. Violations of these restrictions can lead to fines, deportation, and bans.

Key Restrictions for B1/B2 Visa Holders

Visitors on B1/B2 visas must familiarize themselves with the restrictions in order to comply with U.S. law. For instance, those intending to extend their visit beyond the initially granted period must seek a formal extension to avoid unlawful presence.

Activities Prohibited Under B1/B2 Visas

B1/B2 visa holders are barred from engaging in unlawful activities, such as actions that compromise public safety. Notably, B1/B2 visas do not allow for:

  • Study: Enrolling in courses of study is not permitted.
  • Employment: Visitors cannot be employed by U.S. firms or organizations.
  • Paid performances: Engaging in any paid professional performance is off-limits.
  • Arrival as a crewmember: B1/B2 holders cannot enter the United States as crewmembers on ships or aircraft.
  • Work in information media: Working as foreign press–including roles in radio, film, or print journalism–is prohibited.

Long Term Affacts

The B1/B2 visa is categorized under non-immigrant visas, setting it apart from the H1B, which allows for dual intent. This distinction is crucial for those considering a transition back to an H1B visa or those contemplating a green card application in the future. Applicants must present a compelling argument for the shift from H1B to B1/B2 status and then back to H1B. Failing to provide a persuasive explanation could lead to increased scrutiny or a higher likelihood of receiving a Request for Evidence (RFE) during the green card application process.


H1B to B1/B2 Change of Status in 3 Steps

I-539 & Supporting Documents

Complete form I-539 online and submit the following supporting documents:

🔸 A financial statement demonstrating that you will be able to financially support your stay in the US
🔸 An explanation letter describing your reason for change of status
🔸 Intended travel itinerary
🔸 Proof of strong ties to your home country
🔸 Copies of passport (including visa pages)
🔸 Copy of I-94, which indicates your arrival in and intended departure from the US.
🔸 Recent digital photograph that meets the U.S.government guidelines. 
Wait for Results

The processing period for your application can vary, taking anywhere from three to eight months based on the specifics of your case. During this time, you'll ultimately receive one of four possible outcomes:

**Approval**: You're all set to enroll and commence your studies.

**Request for Evidence (RFE)**: Additional information is needed from you.

**Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID)**: It's time to address any issues raised.

**Denial**: It may be time to explore alternative paths or consider reapplying.

Following the successful approval of your petition, you'll have the flexibility to continue your job search while maintaining B2 status.

Get a job and change B2 to H1B

Upon landing a new position, it's crucial to ensure your future employer initiates a fresh H1B petition before your B2 status expires. Following the submission by your employer, you'll transition into a new period of anticipation while awaiting approval. Once sanctioned, your commencement date for the new H1B will mark the beginning of your ability to work under this status.

*Insight: In job interviews, disclosing your pending B2 visa status might not be in your best interest due to potential concerns from employers about the transition process. A strategic approach would be to highlight your previous H1B visa tenure, underscoring that you're exempt from undergoing the H1B lottery anew, thus sidestepping the intricacies tied to visa uncertainties.

How Can CPTDog Help?

Transparent and Affordable Pricing

We believe in clear and straightforward financial dealings. Unlike the hourly rates charged by many law firms, GoElite offers a flat fee of $1,500. This transparent pricing model eliminates any surprises and helps you budget effectively for your visa application process.

Strong University Affiliations

CPTDog is affiliated with over 25 accredited Day 1 CPT universities across the United States. These partnerships underscore our credibility and established presence in the academic and immigration sectors, making us a trusted choice for your educational and visa needs.

Complimentary Consultation Services

Get started on your educational journey with a free consultation from CPTDog. Our experts will help you identify the perfect Day 1 CPT program that fits your academic and career aspirations, ensuring you make the most informed decision.

Financial Assistance Benefits

We offer significant financial benefits to ease your educational expenses:

Application Fee Waivers: Reduce your upfront costs with waived application fees at participating universities.
Scholarship Opportunities: If you meet specific criteria, you might be eligible for scholarships.
Expedited Service Options

For applicants facing tight deadlines or needing quicker processing, GoElite provides expedited services. Request our fast-track assistance to speed up your application and Change of Status process, ensuring you meet your timelines without hassle.

You Ask, We Answer

H1B Change of Status FAQ

Do I have to leave the US to change from H1B to F1 or B2? Leaving the United States isn't a requirement for transitioning your status from H1B to F1 or B2. You have the option to request a change of status without having to step foot outside the country. On the other hand, if waiting for this change isn't on your agenda, you're welcome to pursue an F1 visa directly through a U.S. embassy or consulate in another country.
What are the implications for shifting from H-1B to F-1 status if I have an approved I-140?

Transitioning from an H1B to an F-1 visa status with an approved I-140 on your record can be intricate, potentially influencing your subsequent applications for employment-based adjustments.

Is it possible to change status from H-1B to F-1 after the six-year maximum H-1B duration?

Absolutely! Transitioning from an H-1B to an F-1 visa status is possible following the completion of the maximum six-year tenure under H-1B, assuming you fulfill the necessary criteria for the F-1 visa.


What are the possibilities of transferring from H-1B to F-1 and later returning to H-1B under cap-exempt circumstances?

Switching from an H-1B to an F-1 visa, and then reverting to an H-1B under conditions that exempt you from the cap, is possible for eligible candidates. This includes those working for nonprofit research entities or academic institutions.

Will change of status impact my future green card application?

Changing your status won't jeopardize your green card application, provided you have a valid reason for the switch. It's imperative to follow the rules specific to each visa type closely. Transitioning to an F1 status? Bear in mind that your foremost responsibility is pursuing your studies. Thus, maintaining your academic standing is essential to dispel any doubts the USCIS might have about your true purpose.

What Happens if I Find a New Job Before my Application for Changing from H1B to B2 is Approved?

You have the option to cancel your change of status request. However, the coordination of submitting your new H1B application while retracting your B1/B2 request could potentially create a lapse in your legal status continuity. Therefore, it’s imperative to engage in discussions with both an immigration lawyer and your prospective employer to strategically plan the submission timings of these applications.

What happens is I find a new job after changing to F1

There are two paths you can consider:

First, you have the option to revert to H1B status and discontinue your academic pursuits.

Alternatively, should you opt to join a school that offers Day 1 CPT, securing a job post-transition to F1 status could allow you to engage in Curricular Practical Training (CPT) in adherence to its stipulations. This approach not only facilitates employment during your study period but also positions you to leverage Optional Practical Training (OPT) post-graduation, provided you advance to a higher degree. Subsequently, you can apply anew for H1B, capitalizing on any unused time from your prior H1B tenure, effectively conserving your six-year H1B visa allocation. Impressively, this route exempts you from undergoing the lottery selection process again.

Can My Grace Period Be Denied or Shortened?

Absolutely, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) holds the authority to either deny or curtail your grace period, evaluating each situation individually. Actions that could lead to the denial of your grace period encompass unauthorized work during this timeframe, engaging in fraudulent activities, and breaching the conditions of your status.

H1B Change of Status Free Consultation


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