Converting an F-1 Visa to an H-1B Visa


Here in Philadelphia, there are some excellent employers, many of whom are happy to hire skilled immigrants. There are also a number of outstanding colleges and universities where students from around the world come to pursue their educations.

If you’ve grown to like it here, you may be wondering how you can get authorized to take your next step by finding a job right here in the United States after you finish your educational program.

Here’s what you need to know.

Eligibility Requirements

In order to be eligible for this adjustment of status you must:

  • Get a job offer for a professional position requiring, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree in a specific field of study.
  • Your employer must pay you the prevailing wage.
  • Your employer must sponsor you.
  • The annual visa cap must not have been met yet.
  • Your employer must prove that hiring you will not have an adverse effect on American workers. 

Some employers who cannot meet the requirements must submit a Labor Condition Application, or LCA, to the Department of Labor so that they can comply with their requirements for posting the job before offering it to you. 

Because there is an annual cap on H1-B visas you will want to start looking for a job and taking steps with an employer as early as possible, probably well before you graduate. The caps are 65,000 general H1-B visas and 20,000 visas for people with a masters, doctoral, or other higher degree.

Gather Documentation

You will need a copy of your college transcript, copies of all your previously issued I-20 forms, a copy of your resume, a copy of your Employment Authorization Document if you’re currently employed through Optional Practical Training (OPT), copies of your I-94 record, your passport, and your F-1 visa stamp.

Your employer will have to provide a great deal of documentation as well. They will also have to send an I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker form on your behalf. Note that your employer should be paying the filing fees. 

Processing Times

It can take several months for your application to be approved unless you apply for premium processing. In addition, if there are any errors in your application or if you have failed to gather and send the appropriate evidence then there can be serious delays.

Working with an immigration attorney, coordinating with your employer, and starting early are all the best way to ensure that you have your best chance of making a successful conversion before you fall out of status in the United States. You may also need to file for a cap-gap extension if your F-1 status will expire while you’re waiting for approval on your I-129 petition; this is something an immigration lawyer can help you with.

If you’re looking for a local immigration attorney who will be happy to guide both you and your employer through every step of the process, call to get help. And if you want to explore other visa options that may be available to you, please reach out. The faster you explore your options and start working with an attorney, the more successful your immigration application is likely to be.

See also:

How Much Does an Immigration Lawyer Cost?

Is It Possible to Get a Work Visa Without a Sponsorship?

New Options for H-1B and L-1 Visa Holders


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