International Students - F1 to H1B Visa Transfer  

Many of the top U.S. Universities and Colleges have subscribed to H1Base Job and Sponsorship services on behalf of their International students who want to transfer from F1 to H1B visa status (or from F1 to OPT to H1B status). For a list of Universities and Colleges that have subscribed - Click Here

Options After F1 Student Graduation »
How to Transfer from F1 Visa to OPT Visa
What is OPT and what are the Rules and Benefits 
The Process and Steps for F1 to H1B Visa Change of Status
The Procedures to go from F1 to OPT to H1B to Green Card

~ Optional Practical Training - OPT Visa Explained  
~ Transfer Process from F1 to H1B Visa status 
~ Transfer Process from F1 to H1B to Green Card

How to Transfer From F1 to H1B Visa Status »
~ List of Documents needed to change status from F1 to H1B visa without OPT
~ What to look for in an H1B Sponsor / employer - direct F1 to H1B transfers
~ How to find H1B jobs and work sponsorship for F1 visa students

F1 to H1B Visa
FAQ for F1 visa / OPT visa holders who want to change status to an H1B visa:

What is the H1B Quota for F1 visa students ?

The quota is the congressionally-mandated limit on the number of individuals who may be granted initial H1B visa status or visas during each fiscal year. The cap is 65,000 + an additional 20,000 for F1 students who have earned a U.S. masters’ degree or higher level degree from a US University/College.

In addition to the quotas above, not all H1B visa applications are subject to the quotas. Congress has provided that H1B visa petitions filed on behalf of H1B workers who will work at institutions of higher education, or a related or affiliated nonprofit entities, or at nonprofit research organizations, or governmental research organizations are exempt from the fiscal year cap (known as H1B cap-exempt). Generally, H1B beneficiaries seeking H1B extensions, or H1B transfers to a new employer are also Not subject to the quota. 

What do Current F1 to H1B Extension Regulations Allow ?

Current regulations allow certain students with pending or approved H1B petitions to remain in F1 status during the period of time where an F1 student’s status and work authorization would otherwise expire, and up to the start of their approved H1B employment period.

This is referred to as filling the “cap gap”, meaning the regulations provide a way of filling the “gap” between F1 and H1B status that might otherwise occur if F1 status was not extended for qualifying students. An interim final rule published in the Federal Register last year authorized a cap gap extension for eligible students. See 73 FR 18944 (April 8, 2008) “Extending Period of Optional Practical Training by 17 Months for F1 Nonimmigrant Students With STEM Degrees and Expanding Cap-Gap Relief for All F1 Students With Pending H1B Petitions.”

How does “F1 to H1B Cap-Gap” Occur ?

An employer may not file, and USCIS may not accept, an H1B visa petition submitted earlier than 6 months in advance of the date of actual need for the beneficiary’s services or training. As a result, the earliest date that an employer can file an H1B application is April 1, for the following fiscal year, starting October 1. If USCIS approves the H1B petition and the accompanying change-of-status request, the earliest date that the student may start the approved H1B employment is October 1. Consequently, F1 students who do not qualify for a cap gap extension, and whose periods of authorized stay expires before October 1, are required to leave the United States, apply for an H1B visa at a consular post abroad, and then seek readmission to the United States in H1B status, for the dates reflected on the approved H1B petition.

Which petitions and beneficiaries qualify for a F1 visa to H1B visa cap gap extension ?

H1B petitions must be timely filed on behalf of an eligible F1 student. “Timely filed” means that the H1B application (indicating change of status rather than consular processing) was filed during the H1B acceptance period, while the student's authorized duration of status (D/S) admission was still in effect (including any period of time during the academic course of study, any authorized periods of post-completion OPT, and the 60-day departure preparation period, commonly known as the “grace period.”)

Once a timely filing has been made, the automatic cap gap extension will begin and will continue until the H1B process has been completed. If the F1 student’s H1B petition is selected and approved, the student’s extension will continue through September 30th unless the petition is denied or revoked. If the student’s H-1B petition is not selected, the student will have the standard 60-day grace period from the date of the rejection notice to prepare for and depart the United States. Students are strongly encouraged to stay in close communication with their petitioning employer during the cap gap extension period for status updates on the H-1B petition processing. A Form I-797, Notice of Action, with a valid receipt number, is evidence that the petition was filed and accepted.

How does an F1 student covered under the cap gap extension obtain proof of continuing visa status ?

The F1 visa student should go to their Designated School Officer (DSO) with evidence of a timely filed H1B petition (indicating a request for change of status rather than for consular processing), such as a copy of the petition and a FedEx, UPS, or USPS Express/certified mail receipt. The student’s DSO will issue a preliminary cap gap I-20 showing an extension until June 1st. If the student’s petitioning employer receives a notice of selection from USCIS, the student should return to his or her DSO with a copy of the receipt notice, if possible, for issuance of a new cap gap I-20 indicating the continued extension of status. 

What if the post-completion OPT expired before April 1? - If F1 visa status is extended, will OPT also be extended ?

A student who completed his or her post-completion OPT and who subsequently was in a valid grace period on April 1, would benefit from an automatic extension of his or her D/S admission under the cap gap, if the H1B visa petition is filed during the H1B acceptance period, which begins on April 1. The employment authorization, however, would not be extended automatically, because it already expired and the cap gap does not serve to reinstate or retroactively grant employment authorization.

Is an F1 student who becomes eligible for an automatic extension of status and H1B employment authorization, but whose H1B petition is subsequently rejected, denied or revoked, still allowed the 60-day grace period ?

If USCIS denies, rejects, or revokes an H1B petition filed on behalf of an F1 visa student covered by the automatic cap gap extension, the student will have the standard 60-day grace period (from notification of the denial, rejection, or revocation of the petition) before he or she is required to depart the United States.
For denied cases, it should be noted that the 60-day grace period does not apply to an F1 student whose accompanying change of status request is denied due to discovery of a status violation. Such a student in any event is not eligible for the automatic cap gap extension. Similarly, the 60-day grace period and automatic cap gap extension would not apply to the case of a student whose petition was revoked based on a finding of fraud or misrepresentation discovered following approval. In both of these instances, the student would be required to leave the United States immediately.

Can F1 visa  students travel outside the United States during a cap gap extension period and return in F1 status ?

The regulations at 8 CFR 214.2(f)(13) state that a student who has an unexpired EAD issued for post-completion OPT and who is otherwise admissible may return to the United States to resume employment after a temporary absence. By definition, however, the EAD of an F1 student covered under a cap gap extension is necessarily expired. As a result, if the student elects to travel outside the United States during a cap gap extension, he/she should be prepared to apply for an H1B visa at a consular post abroad prior to returning. As the H1B petition is presumably for an October 1 or later start date, the student should be prepared to adjust his/her travel plans, accordingly.

Do the limits on unemployment time apply to F1 students with a cap gap extensions ?

Yes. The 90-day limitation on unemployment during the initial post-completion OPT authorization continues during the cap gap extension.

If the F1 student was not in an authorized period of OPT on the eligibility date for the cap gap extension, can the student work during the cap gap extension ?

No. In order for a student to have H1B employment authorization during the cap gap extension, the student must be in an approved period of post-completion OPT on the eligibility date. 

Is an F1 student eligible for a H1B cap-gap extension of status and employment authorization apply for a STEM OPT extension while he or she is in the cap-gap extension period ?

Yes. However, such application may not be made once the cap-gap extension period is terminated (e.g., rejection, denial, or revocation of the H1B application petition), and the student enters the 60-day departure preparation period.

What is a STEM OPT extension ?

F1 students who receive science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees included on the STEM Designated Degree Program List, are employed by employers enrolled in E-Verify, and who have received an initial grant of post-completion OPT related to such a degree, may apply for a 17-month extension. F1 students may obtain additional information about STEM extensions on the Student and Exchange Visitor Program website


CAREER CENTER - F1 to H1B Job Search Tips and Resources

Developing a Career Plan - (PDF)

How to manage Career Transition - (PDF)

Your Resume (PDF guides):

Insider Advice for Resume Writing

25 Tips for Resume Writing

Interviews (PDF guides):

Insider Advice for Interviewing

25 Tips for Interviewing

Salary Negotiation
(PDF guides)

Insider Advice for Salary Negotiation

25 Tips for Salary Negotiation

F1 to H1B Job and Sponsor Search (services)

Professional Assistance services to find H1B jobs with Companies that Sponsor F1 and OPT Students    

The H1B Visa Program

Complete H1B visa Information

Cap Exempt H1B Visa Quota

The Green Card Program

Complete Green Card Information