I’m applying on April 2009, When does H-1B Visa start?

International students taking MS usually have this kind of question if they are applying for H-1B visa before graduation.

Madhura Asks

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.


  1. Vivek Saraf on March 30, 2009 at 8:34 AM

    i m persuing B.E in computer science,what would be the scope & concerns about me for admissions in US Universities & tell me the details concerning M.S in U.S ?

  2. Sarath on March 28, 2009 at 7:25 PM

    Your H1B will be effective from Oct 2009

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