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H-1B important updates

The H-1B cap season is upon us. If you are one of the many F-1 visa holders selected to apply for H-1B, this message is for you.

There are two ways to apply for H-1B:
  • Change of status with USCIS
  • Consular processing

It is extremely important that you know which method your company has requested.

Change of status

This process entails transitioning your status from F-1 to H-1B on or after October 1st, at which time USCIS will complete your F-1 SEVIS record. Your new I-94 showing proof of your new H-1B status will be included in your I-797A approval notice. Once you depart the U.S., you must visit a U.S. consulate or embassy to obtain your H-1B visa stamp before re-entering.

If your H-1B application was filed while you were still under valid Post-OPT/STEM OPT status, and your current work authorization expires before the October 1 H-1B start date, you may qualify for the H-1B Cap Gap. This extension allows you to continue working while awaiting the beginning of your H-1B employment. You may request a Cap Gap I-20 through the MyISSC eForm portal.

Consular processing

This method requires you to maintain your F-1 Post-OPT/STEM OPT status until you can exit the U.S. to obtain your H-1B visa stamp and then return to the U.S. using your H-1B visa stamp. You may continue working until the expiration of your Post-OPT/STEM OPT authorization without leaving the U.S. as long as you maintain your F-1 status.

Maintaining your status entails reporting any changes to your employment status (such as leaving or beginning a new work opportunity), work address, local U.S. address, or contact information within 10 days of the change.

For students authorized for STEM OPT, it's also essential to validate your status by reporting your participation every six months and submitting a self-evaluation at 12 and 24 months. Reporting participation is quick and easy through the myISSC eForm Portal.

Completion of SEVIS record

On or shortly after October 1st, USCIS should automatically update the F-1 SEVIS record for students approved for an H-1B change of status. However, it's essential that you submit an F-1 Demographic Update eForm through the MyISSC eForm Portal when your change of status takes effect. This step ensures proper closure of your F-1 SEVIS record.

If you are on STEM OPT, you must also submit the STEM OPT Employment Update eForm through the MyISSC eForm Portal to report your change of status and fulfill your final STEM OPT reporting requirements.

Past instances have shown that USCIS can mistakenly complete the F-1 SEVIS record for students approved for consular processing. If you receive an I-797B approval notice, it indicates approval for consular processing.

It's crucial to regularly check your F-1 SEVIS status by logging into your SEVP Portal at least once a month. If your SEVP Portal indicates that your F-1 SEVIS record has been completed in error, you should immediately submit the F-1 Demographic Update eForm through the MyISSC eForm Portal. Through this eForm, you'll upload your I-797B as evidence of your H-1B consular processing, enabling us to request SEVIS to reactivate your F-1 status. Failure to contact the ISSC, or delayed communication with the ISSC, may have adverse effects on your F-1 immigration status.

For those on STEM OPT, please note: You will not be eligible to have your F-1 status reactivated if you have not complied with the STEM OPT reporting requirements.


Have questions? Contact the ISSC.

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