How to Change Your Visa Status From H1B visa to F1 visa?

Change Your Visa Status From H1B visa to F1 visa

Visas hold significant power in determining who can enter the United States, with a range of options available, from dependent visas like H4 to student visas like J1 or F1, work visas like L1, and more. Among them, the H1B visa stands out as particularly appealing.

Securing an H1B visa opens doors to lucrative high-paying jobs. However, recent changes in eligibility criteria have added complexity to the process, dampening the initial excitement.

But there’s still hope. Despite the hurdles, it’s possible to transition from an H1B to an F1 student visa. In this blog, we’ll explore the intricacies of each visa type and delve into the steps involved in changing your visa status from H1B to F1.

So let’s explore

H1B Visa and F1 Visa: Exploring the Basics

What’s an H1B Visa?

The H1B visa falls under the Immigration and Nationality Act and permits foreign workers to temporarily join U.S. employers in specialized occupations. These roles typically demand skilled individuals with a bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience.

An H1B visa grants you a stay in the U.S. for three years, with the option to extend it to six years. After this period, reapplication may be necessary depending on your circumstances.

However, obtaining an H1B visa is no walk in the park. Recent U.S. legislation has restricted the number of H1B visas issued annually. In 2017, only 180,440 H1B visas were issued.

What’s an F1 Visa?

Unlike the H1B visa, which permits employment in the United States, the F1 visa is a non-immigrant visa designed for educational pursuits in the U.S. This visa enables enrollment in colleges, universities, language programs, or similar academic institutions.

It’s crucial to note that F1 visas are exclusively for educational purposes and cannot be used for employment. Therefore, individuals entering the U.S. on an F1 visa cannot undertake full-time work.

However, they may be allowed to work part-time, typically up to 20 hours per week on campus during the academic term, and full-time during breaks. Prior approval from the Department of Homeland Security and the school’s International Office is necessary for such employment.

Is it Possible to Switch from H1B to F1?

Absolutely! You have the option to extend your stay in the U.S. by transitioning your visa status from H1B to F1.

This shift not only allows you to hone your skills but also gives you ample time to ponder your next steps while remaining in the U.S.

How to Apply for F1 Visa Status?

If you’re looking to enroll in a university or college with an F1 visa, it’s a straightforward process. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Secure acceptance from the college or university by obtaining an acceptance letter. Additionally, you’ll require a signed I-20 form indicating your student status duration and the department you’ll be joining. It’s advisable to inform your school about your intent to change visa status. Don’t forget to sign the Student Attestation section.
  2. Complete the I-539 form and submit it along with a $370 filing fee payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. You may also need to pay an additional $85 for biometrics. USCIS will provide updates on where to undergo blood, hair, fingerprint, and retina scans.
  3. Prepare to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee.
  4. Provide financial evidence documents to demonstrate your ability to financially support your studies throughout the program.
  5. Submit other essential documents, including a copy of your I-94, photocopies of the I-797, passport, immigration documents, and more.
  6. Compile all these crucial documents in a folder and send them to USCIS.

H1B to F1 Visa Processing Time

Prepare for a potentially lengthy process that could span several months or even longer. However, stay positive and ensure you provide a stable return address for USCIS to contact you with the final decision, whether it’s positive or negative.

If you’re considering returning to your home country, consider providing a friend’s or relative’s address for easier communication.


Switching your visa status from H1B to F1 could be the right move if you wish to prolong your stay in the U.S. Apply for the change and await the outcome.

If your H1B visa isn’t expiring soon, it’s advisable to wait for the change to occur while staying in the U.S. However, if you’ve lost your job, it’s best to return to your home country to avoid potential denial of the status change due to violating U.S. immigration laws.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I switch my visa status from H1B Visa to F1 Visa?

Absolutely! If you want to study in the United States, you can transition your visa status from H1B to F1. This involves getting accepted into an educational program and following specific procedures outlined by USCIS.

What steps are involved in changing from H1B Visa to F1 Visa status?

To change from H1B to F1 status, you need to secure acceptance into a SEVP-Certified School, obtain an I-20 Form, file Form I-539, maintain H1B status until approval, and pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee.

What’s the processing time for changing from H1B Visa to F1 Visa status?

The processing time for changing from H1B to F1 status can vary significantly, typically ranging from 3 to 12 months, depending on the USCIS service center and individual case factors.

Can I begin studying while my change of status is pending?

No, you cannot start studying in F1 status until your change of status is approved. However, you may be able to study part-time based on your H1B status during this time.

Do I have to leave the U.S. to change from H1B Visa to F1 Visa status?

Not necessarily. You can file Form I-539 for a change of status within the U.S. However, if denied or if you prefer not to wait, you can apply for an F1 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad.

What happens if my H1B visa expires before my F1 status is approved?

If your H1B visa expires before your F1 status is approved, you may need to leave the U.S. and apply for an F1 visa from your home country, unless you qualify for a period of authorized stay.

Am I allowed to work on an F1 visa?

Yes, you can work on-campus for up to 20 hours per week during the academic term and full-time during breaks. Off-campus work options like CPT and OPT are available under certain conditions.

What are the risks associated with changing from H1B Visa to F1 Visa status?

Risks include potential denial, leading to the need to leave the U.S., and the inability to work full-time as allowed under the H1B visa.

It’s advisable to consult an immigration attorney for guidance on the process and legal complexities that may arise.

How does changing to F1 Visa status impact my tax obligations?

Changing to F1 status may affect your tax obligations, as F1 students are typically considered non-residents for tax purposes for a certain period. It’s essential to understand the tax implications and comply with U.S. tax laws.

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