International students taking MS usually have this kind of question if they are applying for H-1B visa before graduation.
I will be done with my MS in S/W Engineering by 10th Oct 09 and will be applying for OPT 3 months before that.
But I am also applying for an H-1B visa this year in the Open Quota of 65,000.
If my H-1B is approved, will it automatically start on 1st Oct. ’09?
Is it up to me to opt for OPT or H-1B at that point in time?
Can I remain in OPT status until I get a project and once I get a project then change my status to H-1B?
H-1B approval start data
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has a clearly defined rule for this so we can assume that’s the reason April 1 was selected as the start of H-1B applications and October 1 as the start date for a specific fiscal year.
Petitioners can request up to 6 months in advance for the H-1B approval start date.
If an H-1B visa application was filed on April 1, 2009 and if the application is selected in the lottery and an I-797 is approved, the start date cannot be later than October 1, 2009 because of the 6 month rule.
If for instance, an H-1B visa is filed on April 15, 2009, then a start date from October 1 to October 15 can be requested, but not later than October 15. This rule might apply even for an H-1B transfer.
Will H-1B Automatically Start on Oct the 1st 2009?
There are more rules associated with the change of status from F-1 Visa to H-1B. You will have to talk to your immigration lawyer who’s submitting your application.
Ask about applying for H-1B without the need to have a change of status, but I’m not sure if they will be willing to submit an H-1B petition without COS.
However, if your H-1B application was submitted with COS request, then automatically your status will become an H-1B from October 1, 2009.
If someone is on L-1 visa, he or she can submit H-1B petitions without a change of status request, but I don’t think that option is possible for F-1 to H-1B.
Again, it’s always good to spend few dollars to consult with an immigration specialist, who can suggest more options based on your scenario.
[Read in detail about After H-1B Approval – What Next?]
This is for information purposes only. If you need further details and clarification, always consult an immigration attorney.