H1B Visa and STEM OPT Application Filed at the Same Time with USCIS

First of all I would like to appreciate for HSB for this initiative, especially for students.

I am currently on my OPT ( Optional Practical Training ) , expiring on Aug 2013. My employer has filed my H1B for 2013, and it has been selected and is pending with USCIS.

  • As my H1b petition is filed with USCIS, I asked my university to issue my cap-gap I-20.
  •  As per my university, for some reason my SEVIS record is not reflecting my cap-gap eligibility, without which they cannot issue my cap-gap I20. They have raised a ticket to get this corrected on my SEVIS record, but no changes so far.
  • So, as a matter of fact, my university suggested me to apply for OPT STEM extension [as I am eligible for it], so that I can continue working till my H1b gets approved and effective.
  • As per with discussions with my university, I have applied for OPT STEM extension as well.

Now, the scenario is my both OPT-STEM extension and H1b are filed and pending with USCIS.

I have a question, if my H1b gets approved first, and my OPT STEM extension later, then will my OPT-extension cancels my approved H1b status? If yes, then what can be solution for this? Once if my H1b gets approved, shall I pull back my OPT STEM extension file from USCIS?

H1B Visa Application and OPT Extension

You have to consider few possibilities here with concurrent H1B Visa application with COS and 17 months STEM OPT extension application with USCIS

  1. First H1B is approved before  then STEM OPT extension is approved before October 1st ( No problem)
  2. First OPT Extension is Approved and then H1B is approved with before or after October 1st   (No problem)
  3. H1B is approved after October 1 then followed by STEM Extension Approval  ( Is it possible? If so, this could be a problem)

In first and second scenario, you shouldn’t have any problem. Because your H1B Approval will have start date after October 1. Change of status to H1B happens only from the start date in H1B application (typically October 1, 2013).

If your OPT Extension gets approved before or after H1B, but before October 1, 2013 or H1B start date, then you shouldn’t have any issues with your status.

Scenario #3 – First you have to figure out if USCIS can approve your OPT extension after COS to H1B have occurred.  For instance, if your H1B Visa application is approved after October 1, say on Oct 5th. You will be automatically converted to H1B Visa on Oct 5th.

Next logical question would be – Is it possible for USCIS to approve STEM extension when you are already on H1B or would they know  your status is already changed to H1B and deny STEM extension. I have to *assume* the later will happen, but I don’t know the answer.  Best bet is to ask your immigration attorney who applied for your H1B Visa.

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  1. Charmi on June 13, 2019 at 1:20 PM

    Filed for OPT extension and asked employer to file for my H1B.
    HR: ” Can’t apply for H1B until 6 months before expiration date of OPT”
    Is that true?
    Note: I work in a hospital as Surg. Res Specialist, so I am guessing it is a different kind of H1B application. Thanks!

    • Raghuram Sukumar on June 13, 2019 at 11:21 PM

      Your HR is correct.

  2. Srinadh on January 2, 2019 at 4:55 AM

    Hi Raghu,

    I have gone through the whole page and my situation is a bit different from the others, you may quote this case as Scenario #4.

    Scenario #4:
    I completed Master’s on Dec 2017 and my employer applied for H1-B during April 2018 and was picked in the lottery. I received RFE and my employer responded for it. But unfortunately, my H1-B was denied on Dec 26th.
    In the meantime, I’ve applied for STEM-Extension on November 24th and received receipt notice.
    I’m worried that USCIS might reject/deny my STEM-Extension based on my H1-B denial.
    Can you please let me know if you have seen anyone in similar situation?
    Thanks in Advance.

  3. Navya on September 22, 2018 at 7:13 PM

    This is something Urgent to ask
    My h1 got selected and received approval documents and then I received RFE and now it’s pending after RFE
    and didn’t apply for stem extension yet, my opt end date was July 6 2018.
    Can I still apply for stem extension?
    Please guide me at your earliest convenience.
    It’ be huge help

  4. Akanksha on May 17, 2018 at 10:15 AM

    Hi, my h1b was approved on 5/2/18. My current opt expires on 7/11/18. I am eligible for a stem extension and I am planning to apply for one with a cap gap i20. My employers attorney says it’s not needed. However, if I were to get laid off before Oct 1st but after July 11th, I would be out of status.
    Would uscis accept my stem extension application and process it even with an approved h1b?

  5. Nilay on May 9, 2018 at 11:11 PM


    My H1-B got approved on 5/4/18 and received I-797A approval notice from USCIS so should I file for OPT STEM Extension?

    My attorney is saying no need to file OPT STEM Extension but to obtain CAP-GAP I-20

    What are your thoughts?

    • Raghuram Sukumar on May 10, 2018 at 8:32 AM

      I would follow your attorney’s advice. From Oct 1, your status will be on H-1B assuming COS is also approved.

  6. kiran on January 23, 2018 at 11:23 AM

    Hi Raghu,
    I completed my master in 2016 and worked for a year on opt till feb 2017. After marrying, I switched to H4. Now with all the speculations of H4 ead will be cancelled, I want to find other options. Can I switch back to F1 and apply for opt extension which I never used?

  7. Charles on April 30, 2017 at 12:40 PM

    My 12-month Initial opt expires on June 20 and I was picked h1b in lottery and got cap gap extension from university. So do I still need to apply for OPT? or wait until h1b was approved without any queries?

    One more Important question.
    I am thinking not to apply for OPT extension If in case my h1b has any queries raised and it was cancelled what should I do? Do I have any chance to apply for OPT extension later on?

    Please give me helpful answers for my questions. It would be useful for me.

  8. Julie on April 2, 2017 at 9:46 AM

    Hi Raghu,

    I am currently on 12-month F1-OPT which is expiring on June 27th,2017. My employee has already filed for H1b this year. If my H1 gets selected in lottery , should I still apply for STEM OPT extension ? Or am I allowed to stay here and continue working based on H1 approval notice ? If yes, what would be my status from Jun-28 to Oct-1 ?

    Thank you !

    • Raghu on April 17, 2017 at 11:27 AM

      If you want to apply for STEM or H1B depends on other factors too like how your H1 application is filed (with COS).

  9. Sweta on March 17, 2017 at 1:11 AM

    My h1b approved in Jan 2017 and STEM opt is approved in March 2017 that the opt extension was applied before 1 week of h1b approval.

    What is the solution?

    • Raghu on March 17, 2017 at 9:44 AM

      Talk to Murali right away to sort out your current status – https://www.happyschools.com/ask-an-attorney-2/

    • Uday on March 23, 2018 at 5:31 PM

      Sweta, I’m in the same situation. H1 approved on Jan 11 2018 and applied STEM OPT Extension on Jan 09 2018(Still Pending) . Please let me know what happened in your case?

  10. raj304 on February 14, 2016 at 11:07 AM


    My initial 12 month opt got expired on Feb 8th 2016, stem opt denied on Feb 10th 2016, my employer files H1b in April, which will be within 60 day grace period, my question is can i stay back in US without re-enrolling in school? if my H1b is not picked will i be getting another 60 day grace period?

    And also to be on safe side if i enroll in a school in the the first week of April, will my H1b filling get effected? will my application come under Masters quota or general quota?


    • Raghuram Sukumar on February 15, 2016 at 8:00 AM

      Talk to Attorney to make sure you know the status issues and what you can and cannot do during the Grace Period – https://www.happyschools.com/ask-an-attorney/

      • raj304 on February 15, 2016 at 12:38 PM

        Hi Raghu,

        I have emailed Murali on Thursady evening i didn’t hear back yet.

        • Raghuram Sukumar on February 15, 2016 at 2:24 PM

          2 to 3 working days 🙂

        • Santosh on September 19, 2016 at 3:11 PM

          Hi Raj

          what is the answer of your query.

  11. vrathi on September 8, 2013 at 11:43 PM

    Hi sir ,
    I am graduated student in engineering (electronics & communication) actually I want to continue my education with MS in computer science so is there any problem to change my stream.
    And my second question to you sir, my shortlisted university typically asking only for Toefl score so why I would waste my money to taking Gre.would be there any problem without Gre

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