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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:

  • Through a change of status.
  • Through consular processing.

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

Change of status

This method will change your status from F-1 to H-1B on or after Oct. 1, 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 located on your I-797A approval notice. Once you leave the U.S., you will need to apply at a U.S. consulate or embassy to obtain your H-1B visa stamp before returning to the U.S. 

Your work authorization will be extended to Sept. 30 through Cap Gap if your Post-OPT or STEM extension authorization expires before the Oct. 1 H-1B start date. 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 or STEM extension status until such time that you can exit the U.S. to obtain your H-1B visa stamp, then return to the U.S. using your H-1B visa stamp. You may continue working until the expiration of your Post-OPT or STEM extension authorization without exiting the U.S. as long as you maintain your F-1 status

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

-- DC = STEM approved, pending or active --

Students authorized through the STEM extension must also validate their status by reporting their 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.

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Completion of SEVIS record 

On or soon after Oct. 1, the USCIS should automatically complete the F-1 SEVIS record of students who have been approved for an H-1B change of status. However, you must submit an F-1 Demographic Update eForm through the MyISSC eForm Portal when your change of status comes into effect. This will ensure your F-1 SEVIS record is properly closed out. 

Past experience has taught us that the USCIS can also complete the F-1 SEVIS record of students who have been approved for consular processing in error. If you receive an I-797B approval notice, this means you were approved for consular processing. 

It is extremely important that you check your F-1 SEVIS status by logging in to your SEVP Portal at least once per month. If your SEVP Portal shows that your F-1 SEVIS record has been completed, you must contact immediately. You will need to provide us with a copy of your I-797B approval notice as well as your I-797C receipt notice so that we can request that SEVIS reactivate your F-1 SEVIS record. Failure to contact the ISSC, or contacting the ISSC too late, can negatively impact your immigration record.

-- DC = STEM approved, pending or active --

SEVIS will not reactivate your F-1 SEVIS record if you have not complied with the STEM reporting requirements.

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