study in h4 or f1 visa

Study in H4 Visa or F1 Visa? 3 Options with Pros and Cons

Raghuram Sukumar H4 Visa 170 Comments


H4 visa holders in USA can attend college U.S.A. they have three options based on visa status to attend the college. They are

  1. Study in F1 visa ( H4 to F1 Visa )
  2. Study in H4
  3. Study in H4 and F1 Visa

Following question is was posted in the forums and this article was inspired buy this question :

 I have 3 years Bachelors degree from India. So I have to do a bridge course along with my Masters degree. My main confusion is to study in H4 or in F1.

Everyone says changing to F1 is better because of scholarships TA, RA and OPT. But the Fees for International students, F1 Visa stamping and approval are the risks involved.

I have a 2 year old kid and there is no one to take care of her. There is no one in India to help me. I think it is better to study in H4 (As Resident fee is lesser than International student fee) and then apply for H1B though I’ll lose OPT and wait till H1B.

My concerns are money (considering the bridge course too), my kid and the processes involved.

I have not come across even a single person/blog saying its better to study while on H4. I’m really confused. Can you suggest me what would be better for me? I really could not come to a conclusion for almost a year so please help me.

Answer to your question depends on the your need and wants. Let me explain the pros and cons of  3 options I have listed above along with my recommendation.

Study in H4 or F1 Visa?

Here’s some factors you need to consider before deciding to attend college in USA in H4 visa

  • Visa Status
  • Finance
  • Career Goals

So, answer to your question depends on the visa situation and financial impact due to in-state and out-of-sate tuition fees and your career goals.

1. Study in F1 Visa

To study in F1 visa, you have to get admission and then apply for H4 to F1 Change of Status.

It’s simple process to apply for H4 to F1 Visa. You can do in online in 30 minutes.

Why are you going to college in first place while on H-4 visa?

If the answer could be one of the following

  1. Get a job (  Not get stuck in H4, but find a job in USA )
  2. Just get a an education to help your family business
  3. Other Reasons

If your primary goal is to get a job in USA and H-1B Visa, then studying in F1 visa should be way to go.


Getting H-1B from H4 visa is a pain and cumbersome process.

H4 visa holders who have applied via consulting companies know what I’m talking about.

Here’s the path you can take to study in F1 and apply for H1B Visa

  • H4 to F1 Visa
  • F1 Visa to CPT ( if you want Internship)
  • F1 Visa to OPT
  • Job with OPT
  • OPT to H1B

2. Study in H4 Visa

This is pretty straight forward option. You can start attending college ( Full-time or Part-Time) in H4 Visa status.

Here’s few instance when studying in H4 will be beneficial

  • You already have H1B visa counted under cap, then converted to H4.
  • H4 for EAD rule gets published, then you can study in H4, then use the EAD to get a job.

But, if your goal is to get Full Time job and H1B visa, then I don’t recommend this option.

Reasons Not to Study in H4

Finding a job, then applying for H1B while in H4 visa is close to impossible.  You should already know this by know. Plus, getting a direct full-time job from H4 is also tough.

I doubt you want to invest 1 to 2 years of your time and money and end-up not finding a job or H-1b Visa.

Here’s an example  :

  • Graduate  in May 2014 (example).
  • H1B cap could be over by April 2014.
  • So, you have to wait till April, 2015 to apply for H1B
  • Start working from October 2015.

Other than consulting company, you are less likely to find an employer who can hire you before April 2015, apply for H1B and wait till October 2015 for you to start working.

3. Study in H4 and F1 Visa

This is hybrid option. You can start studying in H4 Visa,  then change your status to F1 after 1 year or so.

It again depends on your preference and university rules with respect to CPT and OPT rules.

Trust me here. Before you take this approach, talk to the university’s International Office where you plan to study. They can be a pain some times. with all the rules on when you can apply for CPT.

If you want to apply for internship via CPT, then university will have established rules on when you are eligible to apply for CPT.

  • Should you complete 2 semester in F1 to be eligible for CPT
  • Should you just complete 2 semester in college  in H4 visa then change to F1 and then get CPT?
  • Or you may be willing not to do internship and spend almost entire course in H4, then convert to F1, so you can apply for OPT?

That’s why I said earlier, choice of converting from H4 to F1 visa depends on your need and wants.

What is more important to you?

  • Getting F1, Internship via CPT, then OPT and then job and H-1B Visa? ( you will pay of out of state fees )
  • Study in H4, Pay In-state fee, then change to F1 just before graduation.
  • Complete entire course in H4 with in-state fees and take risk with job and H-1B visa?

So, you know all the options. There are pros and cons for all the approach.

My Recommendation – Study in H4 or F1 visa?

I would go with Study in F1 visa or Study in H4.

  • F1 visa
    • If your goal is to get a job and H-1B Visa.
  • H4 Visa
    • If your spouse is close to getting green card
    • you already have an H-1B visa counted under the cap
    • In-Sate Fees is more important than job.
  • H4 and F1
    • In-State Fees while in H4
    • Out of State fees for while in F1
    • Apply for OPT and then get a job

I have made some assumptions here :  You are eligible to get In-state fee in the state you live. If you have been in a state less than 1 year, then you may not be eligible to get In-State Fees.

University will ask you to provide proof for residency requirements ( like State Tax filing, Drivers License, etc).

Your Scenario :

You have a 2 year old kid. Which means, you have to send the child to the day care ( if you are not already doing that). That’s an added expense for you when you go to study in college ($1000 per month).

You need to ask the following questions

  • Can I afford to pay $1000 per month and still pay out of state fees in F1 Visa?
  • Should I study in H4 for 1 year and then convert to F1 Visa? This will save 1 year worth Out of State fees.
  • Should I study 1 year degree instead of 2 year program?
  • Can I find 1 year degree program near your home?
  • What if  1 year programs are in different location and you have to move to new place?

Don’t jump into conclusion. Ask tough questions, write down the questions and answers.

You have to have to clear understanding about the plan, financial impact and risk options.

Then make an data driven decision, not based on emotions.

Hope, this helps.

Share this article with your H4 Visa friends circle.

Let me know if you have any other questions on attending college in USA on H4 or F1 Visa.


  1. Hi Raghuram,

    The information you provided in the post is Very helpful. My query is, currently I am on h4 and planning to get an admission for Master’s study. I want to study on F1 visa but i got to know that COS H4 to f1 takes very long processing time. I am planning to visit my home country India in november. so I thought to get my f1 visa stamping instead of ‘H4 to F1 transfer’ while returning back from India. Since it involve risk of rejection of F1 visa, could you please suggest me which would be the best option Among two –
    1. COS h4 to F1 in first semester of studies
    2. apply for f1 visa during india visit and come back on F1 instead of h4 visa.

    I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible.

    1. NOTE: 1. I came on F2 last year and got my H4 recently. Since I haven’t visited India since then, I dont have my H4 stamping yet.
      2. I already have acceptance from University for MS program.

        1. And what if in worst case my F1 visa got rejected, Can I get my H4 stamped and return back to US on H4 visa?

  2. I am currently in my second semester of Masters at Uconn. With the information from various blogs I too thought that I will be paying out – of – state fees on F1. So I started on H4 and then got to know that as I am resident of connecticut for more than an year I will be paying instate fees either on h4 or f1.I had plans to go to India after my first sem. So, I had my F1 visa approved in india and now on F1 visa and doing TA this sem. So, it all depends on the university, so try to contact the university and any indians at your university who are in the same boat.

      1. Hi..
        I am currently on h4 visa. If I am applying for f1 visa from USA do I need to go back to my home country to apply ? And Is there any chances of getting my h4 visa or f1 visa rejection while coming back( or during stamping )?

  3. Hi.. The information provided in the post was very helpful and I loved the way you have explained the scenarios.. I would appreciate if u provide me with some guidance.. I have been staying in California for last one year on h4 visa.. I have completed my masters in business administration from India and have five years of work experience. Since I have a three year old kid, I plan to take up some online course to get a job. Can you tell me if the providers of online courses can convert my h4 visa to f1 as the duration of my course should be anywhere from nine months to one year. I plan to take up an online course of medical assistant. Thanking you in advance

  4. Your post was awesome, it
    would great if guide me too. I want my wife to study
    in any university here as she got excellent academic record in INdai. So we are
    not thinking about Job but what I would like to know is without having GRE/ToFEL
    score can she join in to any university???

    1. Rajesh – It’s possible in some scenario and requires some effort on your part. Sign-up for Hello America Course, it comes with 15 minutes one on one call and compete guide for Admission.

  5. I am currently a student of GGC. I am a non-immigrant holding H4 visa and also resident of Georgia as I am residing here for more than a Year. I want to get separated with my husband who is on H1 visa. I will loose my H4 status once i get separated from him, before that i wanted to apply for f1 visa so that I can complete my education here. So please let me know the process so that I can start applying as soon as possible. Please tell me whom I can contact for further information regarding this process.

  6. Hi, I will be reaching US on h4 in April. I’m planning to do M.S. there while being on H4. I have no plans of converting my visa status to F1. My question is, after completing MS on h4, will I be eligible for special category MS students for H1B application? Or do I have to apply only in the general category?

  7. Hi Raghu Ram..this blog is jus awesome..thanks for solving a lot of questions…
    My question is Iam on h4..I stay in Missouri..a university in Missouri helps in transferring h4 to f1..if I want to study and apply for any job when can I go for that..either in first year or second year..thank you

    1. Author

      Can you ask the same question to UM? Only they can answer about the policy.

  8. Hi Raghu,

    Thank you for blog. It is of great help. I need your ssuggestion. I am a H1b visa holder in India and have my daughter _ 20 years old studying B.Tech 3rd year on H4. If I plan to go to take up my job in US, and take my daughter with me now, what are the best options. I am concerned about visa that my daughter will lose at 21 years. Is there an option of transfer to undergrad school, and are any other options pls advise. Thank you.

  9. Hi Raghu,
    Thanks for your informative blogs. Need one suggestion.Currently I am in H4 . I have 7 years of IT exp. in India. I don’t want to pursue IT career. But I want to do some jobs. What kind of job can I do ? Pls. suggest.

  10. Hey Raghuram,
    I am applying to colleges in California particularly in bay area. Since I am keen to do cpt and opt I was thinking of applying as f1. But I am not sure of the chances of acceptance are more for f1 or h4. I will be applying for Software Engineering but my earlier background was Chemical Engineering. So have to measure the risks involved

  11. Hi Raghu, awesome post. I have a question though. My husband’s I-140 will probably get approve in 7-8 months if everything goes fine and the H4 EAD rule will get effective in 4-5 months. My question is should I convert myself to F1 visa, as I can come back to H4 visa even if the F1 visa doesnt work for me. I am just concerned that I am not missing any drawbacks of changing my visa to F1. Please provide your feedback. Thanks.

  12. Hi Raghu

    Thanks for all the information. This is of very great help.
    My scenario is my wife got H1B and she will be travelling in a week. I got my H4 stamped. I have 3+ years of expreience in India in IT. Now I am willing to travell to US. I am confuse on what should i focus to be in US.
    Could you please suggest what should i do in order to get in US and get a job there?

    Please show some path forward.

    Awaiting reply.


  13. hello sir,

    it was awesome blog.i need your help, i not able to take decision.
    currently am on h4 visa ,i got admit in university ,now i want to apply for change of status (h4 to f1) .my spouse came to usa on xxx company and we had a visa upto may 2016,now he want to shift to another company,i am traveling to India for f1 stamping on august. will it affect to my f1 visa stamping.

  14. Hi Raghuram,

    Your blog is very informative. I got answers for few queries which I was having, Still having some doubts. I would be thankful to you if you could help me out.
    I am pursuing MSCS degree from university in california. I am on H4 visa and I did completed my first semester in this month. Now I want to convert from H4 to F1. I have already applied for I-20 change of status form. But I am very confused with the process. What should I do Once i get I-20 form . Do any consultancy help to get F1 visa OR I have to do it by myself , Because my college doesn’t do it.
    And one thing I am very much concerned about is that , where I am still eligible to work on CPT /OPT once F1 visa gets approved ? Because my first semester is over being on H4 . and How long does it take to get F1 visa approved ? I got low TOEFL score but passed ESL exam in college .Does low TOEFL marks causes denial of F1 visa?

    Kindly help.Thank You.


  15. Can you please let me know if GMAT/GRE and TOEFL can be waived off for H4 visa holders who want to do higher studies?Also once the EAD comes in this month , can H4 visa holder work partime along with studies.(currently only F1 visa holders can work partime). What about full time work and partime studies for H4 after EAD comes into effect this month?

    1. Author

      I have answered this in multiple place here. Refer to the QA.

      1. Unfortunately i cant see anywhere in the Q&A where it specifies if GMAT or GRE is compulsory for PG admission for H4 visa holders.Is there any way a person on H4 visa can get PG admission without GMAT or GRE. Request you to kindly clarify this.

        Thank you.

        1. Author

          There’s no universal answer for GRE/GMAT requirements.

          MGIM program that my wife is graduating (tomorrow) used to require GRE, but they made it optional last year. If she applied for MS in CS then GRE is mandatory in NC State.

          If you need a plan mapped out for you based on your location, please schedule a consulting call. I can set things straight for you.

  16. Hi Raghu,

    My husband has got H1 status cleared in the lottery system. I am an HR – Recruiter here in India having close to 5 years of experience.

    As per all these comments and your blog, getting a Job in US is not possible with H4 and even if I opt for study it will take ample amount of time of around 2 years.

    Would it be better option to take L1 and I can come on L2 visa which allows working on job. As his company is ready to give either of the Visa’s.

    What are the chances to get full-time job in HR role, as I assume HR has different functions for US compare to India.?


    1. Author

      Would they go Green Card in either case?

      Is it L1A or L1B?

      Will they revoke H1B if you come in L1?

      1. As for now my husband just got a confirmation by his employer of being selected in H1B lottery.

        Green card is something is not sure and we have not thought of taking it.

        L1 – L1B is something they will can offer.

        Yes, it would be only L1 and not H1B.

        Please, help me in finding if there is any way in respect to new rule for H4 visa holder, where I can be able to take work visa if H1B is something we choose.

        1. Author

          It’s possible to get h1 from non profit companies. You can learn about the experience at H1b plan b course.

          1. Hi,

            What is “H1b plan b course”.
            It would be great if you can help me finding about this.

            Also, as I have written in my first post about my experience in HR. I have 5 years of experience in HR with MBA degree.

            Will this experience can help me in getting job in US? Because if I understand new rule for H4 dependents work permit : it is not for new H4’s.

            Please help me in finding the solution to the problem and situation, as I do not want to give a stop to my career.

          2. Author

            Navya, I can provide limited support via comments.

            Check under products tab above for H1b plan b course and if you like to know above career options please schedule a consulting call ( link is in Products page).

  17. Hi Raghu, First things first. Thanks a lot for creating a platform to address the concerns and also where we can collaborate with each other.

    I filed my H1 B this year and like many people, no update yet.
    So checking the other options. I have a BSc(Computer Science) and there is an Education Evaluation done already for the H1 B filing. I heard we got to do some bridge course to do an MS. Is that so? (even after Education evaluation done ?)
    Will our experience count ? I have around 10 yrs of experience as a System Analyst in IBM.

    I did check the in-state and out-state stuff too. Appreciate if you can give some inputs. Thanks!


    1. Author

      I have seen RFE.l from 4 year degree from India from for H1. But experience also counts. Your r scenario is something needs to be handled by attorney.
      But if you plan to get MS or MBA go for it.

      1. Experience counts for MS degree ? And what about bridge course ?

        For H1, one of my friend got an email today that her’s is selected. So I better think that there is still some hope.

  18. Hi Raghu,

    Thanks for your blog.

    I am currently staying in USA on H4 visa. And I have completed B.E. in India and having 12 years of Experience in IT field. And I wanted to continue my career and so applied for H4 to H1 Visa conversion this year. Like others I am also waiting for the results. As days goes my faith towards getting H1B visa is reduced.

    Anyway I do not want to stop my attempts. Want to get H1 B visa through OPT (from F1 visa). But I am not clear with process. It would be great help if you could clarify them

    My intention is to get Working Visa. My husband company has no policy of processing GC. so i can not go through H4 EAD rule.

    1. In that case what would be the best option for me to get work visa?
    2. What is the minimum duration course I could go for to make me eligible for OPT option.
    3. Do I need to complete TOEFL or GRE exam to get myself enrolled into some university?
    4. Like u said in the post even my kids depend on me and I prefer to study from home. Is there any option available like that?

  19. I am in h4 visa and I am staying here in US since 2009. My hubby applied for GC . I have my GRE score . It will be helpful if you can suggest some university names with no Toefl score.

    1. Author

      It maybe possible to get without GRE, but not without TOEFL.

  20. Sir, I just came to US(Columbus,Ohio) with H4 visa to stay with my husband who is in H1b. Now my husband has applied for his visa extension after completing his 3 years of stay here. But I also want either to study or work here. I have completed my masters in pharmacy with pharmaceutics as my specialization from West Bengal,India. Please suggest me what
    and how to proceed for the next step. I
    want to stay here in columbus and do something. Please tell me whether I have any option to do something from Ohio State University. I will be highly obliged if you show me a way and help me to have a good career here in US.

    1. Author

      Please schedule a coaching call to discuss in detail.

      1. Hi Sir,

        I need to contact you on some queries for H4 visa holder. Please provide me a contact number

        Aakanksha Anand

  21. hello.,
    Hi this is hamsa dharani under H4 visa. i have completed my B.E (ECE) and MBA( HR AND FINANCE) . Then i got married and came to Columbus,Ohio before a month.i am a fresher i dont have working experience. i wish to either study or to work. plz let me know the procedure to study…..

    1. Author

      I have helped several H4 visa holders come up with a plan. Please schedule a coaching call to sort what will be best course to study and where.

        1. Author

          Go to and see which options suits your need.

    1. Author

      You can do this online via I539. Refer to required documents section of the form.

  22. Hi..I have a question about studying on H4, via online universities.
    I came to US on L2 visa , gotL2 based EAD and worked on that for 1.5 years (non- IT) . Then became H4 as my spouse’s company started GC process. (As part of it they applied H1B since L1 was expiring)
    Now as the H4 EAD rule is published, the entire scenario has changed for H4 holders like getting EAD and job through it.

    So my question is , is it advisable to study some certification courses on H4?? for eg:-HR certification programme by online universities ?? Will there be any administrative (visa) constraints for it ??
    Will it be expensive as we are international -non student visa holders ???


    1. Author

      Please schedule a consulting call to talk about your options.

  23. Hi Raghuram,

    Iam currently on H4 visa..residing in Jersey city..and having 5 years of accounting experience in India. Now i want to work in USA.

    Please sugggest me.


  24. Hello sir,

    I am on H4 visa and really interested to study in US, I also have 6 years of work experience from India.I would be glad if you could suggest universities where in I can apply for further studies.And would like to study on H4.


    1. Author

      Check out the all new course I launched on H4 Options.

    2. Hello sir,
      I am recently married in may. Going to US on H4 visa in december along with my spouse. Really interested to work in US. According to the new regulations can i work in US or do i need to study to get a job?


  25. Hi Raghu,

    Just signed up to this website and I can see that it’s really helpful.

    I have few questions regarding finding a course of my choice. I have done Masters in information security from symbiosis University, India and now I am in States on H4. Now I am looking for community colleges who can provide me a low cost degree as well as F1 visa. It would be great if you can guide me on how to find such colleges? Do I need to clear any exam to get into these colleges?


      1. Hi Raghuram,

        Would it be possible for one to get H4 to F1 Approved for a certificate program ?

        Please let me know if it is only possible if one enrolls in Associate Degree ?


        1. Author

          I don’t think so. You need to enroll for Masters Degree or Bachelors (with college starting in Associate Degree).

    1. Author

      Hey– I sent you an email. Payment gateway wasn’t configured properly.

  26. Hi Raghu,

    Could you please let me know if H4 visa with work authorization can ONLY be applied for spouse of H1B who is applying for Green card or even a normal H1B visa holder planning to go back to home country after the H1B visa period is over?

  27. Hello Sir,
    I have a query regarding my study on H4 Visa. As i have moved to US couple of months back. I have completed my in IT want to pursue Masters in Technical Course but don’t have GRE scores , So is that possible to get admission in any colleges which provides technical courses along with F1 Visa with CPT/OPT.

    1. Author

      Check out H4 Options Course (under Courses menu at the top of this site).

  28. Hi Raghuram,
    I am a BE-Computers graduate with 5 years experience in IT from India.
    I have h4 visa and would like to pursue further studies in MIS (Master of Information Systems).
    My question is,if I am interested in doing MIS from a university ,is it a mandatory requirement to give GRE and TOEFL or some universities accept the application without GRE?

    Thanks for any suggestion/help on this.

    1. Author

      Hey – Check out the course H4 Options. If required schedule a consulting call. There’s lot more to discuss that just GRE and TOEFL ( and how to get waiver).

  29. Hi Raghu,

    My wife has got H1B last year Oct 2014 from one desi consulting company in US, but now due to lack of work and due to issue with employer she has to convert to H4 visa until she finds potential employer. Now we are exploring option if she can go for study (FT/PT) from Naperville,IL College. I would like to know if she should opt for any other Visa for Study or she should go with H4 Visa considering she has already passed the road of getting H1B. The final objective is to get a job in US. She doesnt want to waste time sitting and looking for job, rather she can study to utilize time in fruitful manner if thats going to make life easy. Whether we should apply for FT/PT using H4 ? Is this route is cost effective and going to ful fill the objective?

    Appreciate your help.


    1. Author

      🙂 Head straight to H4 Visa Options course. That’s all you need.

  30. Hi Raghu
    I want to pursue my Masters course in U.S. And I am on H4 VISA. My spouse is on H1B. I am staying in U.S. for past 17 months but I recently moved to a different state and haven’t completed a year in this state. Will I be eligible for the in state tuition fee if I go for my masters course here?

    My spouse’s company is likely to apply for his GC within 6 months of time. I was thinking of pursuing a full time course by which his I -140 will be approved and I will get my EAD after which I will have an option to work according to the new work permit rules for H4 VISA holders. The only constraint is that will I be eligible for the in state fee?

    1. Author

      Check the H4 visa Options Course. It will answer all the questions you have posted here.

  31. Hi Raghu,
    I came across your blog and found it intresting and i hope you would help me in figuring out some of my queries.
    I am on H4 visa since this march. I will be applying for MS in this fall. Once my application gets selected i will have to convert my visa to F1 visa . I need to know primarily from you:
    1. Can a apply for conversion of H4 to F1 visa staying in US?
    2. Do i need to come back to india for F1 visa stamping or it can be done from US counsulate in US?

    1. Author

      Hello Trikom, I have done a detailed analysis of the options and how to save money while studying in H4 visa or F1 in H4 options course.

  32. Hi Raghuram – This is an excellent blog!

    My green card is currently under process under EB3 and might take a while before we have EAD. My wife moved to the US last year and is currently in H4 VISA.

    She has 7 years of experience in India. What is the best way for us to get her working in the US?

    We have moved to another state and may not be eligible for the in-state fees. I wanted to get your feedback before we proceed.


  33. Hi Raghuram,

    I came to US on H4, and converted to F1 for studying. I now have a CPT and want to travel to India. In all this time from H4 to F1 I haven’t travelled to India even once. I understand that when ever I fly to India and want to come back to States, I have get my F1 visa stamped. I was scheduling for an appointment for the same. One of the questions ask me – “Do you have a previous F1 visa ?” Should my answer be yes or no ?
    This visa was issued to me in US and there is no stamping on my passport for that.
    Also I still have 6 months more to my studies, is there any chance of visa rejection or any other complications that you can see ?

    1. Author

      For DS-160, you don’t have Previous F1Visa.

      You have F1 Status via I-20.

      Previous F1 Visa = Stamp in Passport.

      If you need the right answer, you can post the same question to Attorney here –

      How long did it take for your COS (H4 to F1) to happen?

  34. Hi sir
    Your write up was a soul curry for This H4 holder wid 6yrs of exp in brands/retail industry(currently messed up vid the non working status).I am planning to pursue a course from FIT-NY…wud like to know further on below points
    1)what’s the duration for h4 to f1 conversion.
    2)planning to go for a certificate course under non credit program which wud last only a semester.will I still be eligible to get OPT if pursued on f1?
    Look forward to ur guidance here.Thanks

    1. Author

      Namrata – You have to find answers to the following before you enroll for the certificate course.

      – Is your school allowing F1 Visa for certificate course most schools will not give I-20) – COS is not taking really long time. Like 5 to 7 months.

      I created H4 Visa Options Course just t address lot more questions you will run into. Check it out.

  35. Hello Sir,

    Thanks for your detailed information of blog, which is very helpful. My situation as below,

    My Wife currently is in F1 status (STEM period expiring by Dec) with F1 Visa expiring on June 2016. Now, she will be going to India and planning to come back on H4 in January. She have been accepted from a university for her Doctorate course to Summer 2016 intake. The questions are, can she study her complete Doctorate course as full time student being on H4 ? or Does she need to be on F1 mandatory to do her Doctorate as full time student? I know people who have done their Master’s on H4 as full time students, but am not sure of the case on for Doctorate. Please advise.

    1. Author

      I have seen people complete MS in H4 Visa. But for PhD, I’m not sure.
      Here’s why: If she gets RA or TA and gets paid, would it violate her H4 status (where one can’t work)?

      You should get this clarified and help is just an email away via

    2. Author

      Why are you switching to H4? Avoiding Visa stamping or for In-state fees?

  36. Hi Sir,

    Im currently residing in Denver from March 2015 on H4 visa. I have an MBA degree from Madras University and 4 yrs of experience in HDFC Bank. Now I’m planning to do MS at colorado business school in fall. As my husband’s green card is getting processed in EB2, my motto for studying MS to get H1B. Kindly clarify my below doubts.

    1) Can i study MS marketing and get a job in banks in USA?

    2) Can i write GRE/TOFEL in US itself and change the visa from H4 to F1 or do i need to go back to India for attending GRE/TOFEL tests and changing the visa status.

    3) In case of above things happening from US itself, can i go to India with my F1 visa during this 1 yr course period?

    4) Is it possible for me to join on H4 (to avoid out of state fee) then change to F1 within this one yr course duration?

    5) After my course completion i would preferably work in any bank. Do the banks in US sponsors H1B?

    1. Author

      Hey – I would have to talk to you via a Skype call to help you. Career impacting decisions can’t be discussed via comments section. Alos, check the H4 Visa Options Course first. It will give clarity.

  37. I am from india i want to go USA . I have completed master of social work in 2014 how can i apply
    Which is good way for me to go USA .

  38. H-4 to F-1 in middle of semester :-

    BACKGROUND : Currently,I am doing MS from UWM in H-4 status. So far I have completed 12 credits and I am in the 3rd semester now (Spring’16) . In this semester, I have opted for 3 courses/9 credits out of which only 1 is classroom course .

    There is a likely chance that when I’ll be in middle of my semester 3 (Feb’16) my husband may go out of status , meaning that his H-1B visa may not be valid . This in turn means that I’ll also go out of status.

    I do not want to initiate I-20 request before knowing about my husband’s visa status because if I do, then I’ll have to un-necessarily take courses in Summer semester which are not relevant to my MS. I will accrue additional fee of at least $12,000 on this.


    1. How should I proceed for obtaining an F-1 ? Will university provide me I-20 in middle of semester ?

    2. If above is possible in Feb’16 itself and then I mail the I-20 to USCIS for COS , will I be considered in-status until my application is approved ? How do I manage the timing for this eventuality ? For example, let’s say that my husband’s H-1B becomes invalid on Feb-15-2016 and I obtain the I-20 on Feb-16-2016 and mail it to USCIS on the same or next day, which will eventually reach to USCIS in 2-3 days. Will I be considered out-of-status since Feb-15-2016 ?

    3. F-1 mandates 2 classroom and 1 online course only however, I’ve opted for 1 classroom and 2 online course in the current semester. Will this be a problem for Change of status?

    4.What is a better mode for F-1 application in my case – Going out of country for stamping OR post the application to USCIS while being in the US ?

    Please guide me.

    1. Hi Sweety Garg,

      Im Joanna. Even im form wisconsin. I’m currently on H4 and i’m planning to purse my MS this year.Can you please guide me the process that you went through.

      Appreciate your quick response.


  39. Hi Raghu,

    I m pooja , my husband is on H1 visa and he is currently working there. I have to go to America in the month of April on H4 visa , so I have a question that when should I start the process for applying my H4 visa so that i can travel in the month of April.


    1. Author

      Hello Pooja,

      I guess I replied to you in another thread. I know an employer who can apply for H1 for qualified applicants. Send me an email using the contact from in the blog.

      1. Hi , I am a lawyer by profession working here as a legal advisor. I wat to know how much time it will take for completion of the process and getting H4 visa, as I want to travel in the month of April.

        1. Author

          H4 Visa process is pretty simple. Schedule the interview, get visa approval and visa would delivered in next 2 to 3 days ( provided there’s no 221(g) and you can fly anytime after that.

      2. Ok. got it about the 221 (g), what are the reasons for getting 221(g) can yu tell me the list of docs require for applying the said visa

  40. Hi Raghu,

    Your Blog really helped in solving few of my queries. To introduce myself, i am pooja, a chartered accountant working with a mnc in India. I am getting married in Dec 2016 and my fiancee is in H1B visa working at Chicago. Can you please guide me regarding when to apply for H4 visa so that i can go along with my husband immediately post marriage and i want to work there too, after studying CPA so will i have some exemption since i am holding CA qualification?

  41. hi
    i have a question. my friend is planning to marry a h1b engineer guy in june and come to usa in jan next year. she is planning to do a 2 year course there and join next april. . its an expensive medical course and the instate fee comes to around 70000 dollars for a total of two years. will she get an f1 visa or a h4 visa? should she apply for f1 visa or h4 visa? after her course she may take a break of five years before she begins to work and earn cz she may have a child after her course. so which is better? f1 or h4? or is it advisable to do the course after five years? to qualify for instate she will have to wait a year after reaching there? is it better to apply now and get admitted and then come there in jan and start the course in april? will she get an f1 visa since she would be married by june this year ti that h1b guy

    1. Author

      Have your friend watch the H4 Visa Options Course. I have cover in-depth about various options and which route would save money.

  42. Hello Raghuram,
    My wife has a H4 to F1 conversion( no stamping yet ). She’s in the final sem of her course and just got an internship and has initiated to get her CPT authorized through a 3 course credit Independent study.

    She’ll graduate end of May depending on the internship duration. Can we travel to India next month and get her visa stamped stating that she needs to complete CPT course needs to be completed to graduate? Would it be easier to request F1 stamping stating the intent of H4 to F1 was to complete an internship required to complete the course.

    What do you think we can do ?

    1. Author

      Hey – Please post this for Attorney Murali Bashyam. There’s pros and cons.
      After you submit the question, I can add options and Murali can comment on it. Thanks.

    2. Hello Harrish,

      I am Subhashini. I am planning to start my Masters from Spring 2017. I have already received the I20. I am married and my husband may have to travel in October to the US on H1B (which means I may have to travel on H4). I plan to change my status to F1 while I am there(no visa stamping). I am guessing this was the scenario with your wife as well. Was she able to work on-campus? Was she authorized CPT/OPT? Please let me know.

      Thank you very much,

  43. Hi Raghu,

    As I told you earlier I want to apply for my Visa as I want to travel in the month of April .
    I checked for the list of documents for applying visa, there was this document income tax return slip
    and my husband went america on H4 in october, and so h is not having income tax return, is this the mandate or important document for applying visa or i can apply without this also. Kindly help me with this


    1. Author

      I’m not getting the context of your question. Please post questions specific to your situation in Q&A page. It maybe better to schedule a session with me to get things sorted out for you. There’s only so much I can answer here in comments area.

  44. Hi,

    I am on H4 Visa currently and my husband is on H1B Visa. We have 3 years of Visa but i am not sure till when we will stay in US (as it depends on current project of my husband). I want to earn money, basically to be financially independent. Are there any 6 months or 1 year courses available which i can apply for and earn simultaneously? Also what is the approximate fees to convert H4 Visa to F1 Visa?

    It will be of great help sir, if you can guide me.


    1. Author

      Fees to convert from H4 to F1 is not a lot, but cost of education is what you should be worried about.

  45. Hello,
    I m aiming for spring jan 2017 for masters in Biotech,US but my major concern is that I’ll be getting married to H1B visa holder in December.should I apply for h4 or f1?how long will the visa procedure be if I opt for H4?can I apply immediately after marriage for both h4 or F1 visa?Also I read for studying on h4 visa I need to be residing in states for atleast a year which doesn’t make me eligible for Jan 17 intake on H4 it true?

    1. “Also I read for studying on h4 visa I need to be residing in states for atleast a year which doesn’t make me eligible for Jan 17 intake on H4 it true?”

      You are eligible to study on H4, but not eligible for in-state fees.

      Also, make sure to go through your university policies on H4 visa. Some Universities do not allow H4 visa students to start in Spring semester.

    2. Yes to get residential benefit you need to complete 1 year (As mention in you id card does not count from your arrival date ). I will suggest go for F1. In H4 you will get benefit after one year.

  46. Hi Raghu,

    You article is very informative. Thanks for helping the community.

    I have one question – after converting from h4 to f1, after completing of education, what if one doesn’t get a job (or cannot do the job due to changed circumstances)?

    I believe once converted to f1 which is independent category on its on, you lose your h4 benefit to “stay” in USA as long your spouse with h1 is working. Can it be converted back to h4 without much hassles? Is there any other way of staying over without job?

    I would appreciate your thoughts on this.


    1. Author

      If you are going to run out of time on F-1, and if you spouse is on H1B, then you can COS to H4 again.

  47. Hello,

    My wife is currently on H4 and planning to go to school in Fall 2016. She has received amazing scholarship and also plans to work on campus. I am on H1B and have already received my I-140, so we can apply for my wife’s EAD too. What’s the best option for my wife:
    1. Stay on H4, get EAD and apply for change in status? While the status change goes through (which can take 4 months), will she be eligible for availing scholarship? I am assuming on campus jobs will be ok because she will have EAD.

    2. Apply for F1 and get it stamped from India in August. That would be the standard path but has risk and overhead.

    Our main goal is NOT to miss out on scholarship and on-campus opportunities.

    1. Author

      Sidharth – Refer to H4 Career Guide course or schedule 15 minutes call with me.

    2. Hi Raghu,
      I am on H4 visa and my visa got extended last week. I started my bachelor’s in Fall 2016 and will be graduating in July 2018. I am planning to change my visa to F1. How long have I to be on F1 visa to be eligible for OPT? Also, I have a plan to travel India on my H4 status and after coming back apply for F1 by mid-August. Would that be too late to apply for F1? Should I postpone my travel and apply for F1 as soon as possible?
      Please advice


  48. HI Raghu,

    Background – I came to USA on H4, got my visa converted to H1B, worked in IT for 1 year, back to H4 after birth of baby.

    1. Can I study on H4 visa and use my H1B visa to find a job after I finish studying?
    2. I want to study journalism (I had applied H1b for an IT job, so will it matter?)
    3. Will it be advisable to study as a resident because I hold a previously applied H1B?


  49. Dear Mr Raghuram, your answers are really to the point & will certainly help the aspirants to pursue study/career in US.
    I may need some guidance for my daughter’s issue regarding H4/F1 & will look up to your valuable inputs.

    With WarmRegards!!
    GM, INDIAN OIL , Mumbai

  50. Hi, I am planning to start my bachelor’s in (Fall 2017). My father is an software engineer who moved to U.S.A 3 years ago and I moved as well from India with him. He currently holds a H1-B visa and I hold a H4 (dependent visa). I will be graduating from High School in Ohio this May 2017. We have been moving between states and we moved to Ohio in October 2015 and still residing there.
    All I want to know is :
    1) Will I be getting In-state for state of Ohio?
    2) Will I be eligible for Scholarships/ Financial Aid?
    3) Can I do internships and several other programs like my American-born friends?
    4) Do I still apply for colleges just like my American-born friends (ACT/SAT SCORES, ESSAYS,GPA)?

  51. Hi Raghuram

    You have mentioned that you do not recommend the option of studying with H4 visa if the goal is to get a job with H1b.

    My wife is currently studying in H4 visa but she has the EAD card till Aug 2019.

    Can you please explain why it is difficult to get H1B visa with the H4 EAD option?

    Thank you very much.

    1. Author

      Please don’t ask questions that have HUGE impact on your careers in blog comments! I don’t know anything about you, your risk taking potentials or future plans and without ZERO background, I can’t help you. And one shouldn’t be making life changing decisions based on my answer in the comments section. At least I wouldn’t do that. Follow the Comments Policy.

  52. hi,
    i am 49 years old . i have done 03 yrs full time course in Mechanical engineering and having 20 + years experience can i will get admission at this age.

  53. Hi,

    I’m currently in US in H4 visa status. I have applied for my masters and received the admission confirmation and I-20. For the process of Status change, during the I-539 application, college asked me to submit an financial affidavit and bank statement with funds of my 1st year course fee as mentioned on I-20.
    But the issue is I have 50% of the fee in my spouse account and for the rest 50% we tried for loan in US it didn’t workout as few of the bank was asking for US citizen as the cosigner.
    So kindly advice whether it is good to apply for change of status with 50% of fund as a current balance with the financial affidavit which will explain my spouse earnings and capability to pay the rest of the fee or the loan approval document is necessary ?

    Kindly do the needful.


    1. Author

      I think your school shouldn’t have issued I20 without 100% sources of fund. For COS, you should be able to apply without proof if funds. Funds is typically required only by the school to give I20.

  54. HI,

    I am on H4 visa i want to do some six month or one year course in management, as i come for management back ground please help me .

  55. Hi Raghu

    Thanks for all the information.
    My scenario is my wife got H1B and she is in states now.
    I have 9+ years of experience in IT.Currently i am working in Sweden as an Delivery Architect and holding an Permanent Resident Card of Sweden.
    Now I am willing to travel to US and My goal is to get H1B.

    Should i apply for F1 or H4 or Should i find employeers who can sponser my H1B. Please adivce.

    Thanks in advance!


  56. Hi Raghu,

    My wife came to US on H4 visa while I have started with my GC process. Now shall we follow the route for H4 study as I would be expecting to get I140 by max in 2 years ?
    Also, she is from commerce background so what study options you suggest going forward ?


  57. Hi Raghu

    Advanced Happy New Year 🙂

    Please help me with my visa issue.I was on H4 and filed for H1B with COS. I got my H1B approved last week but also got admit from a top college for MS program.I would like to pursue my MS but filing from just approved H1 to F1 seems risky.Please let me know what would be the impact and if I can proceed with H1 to F1 filing.

    1. Author

      Happy New Year. I would want to talk to you about F1 vs H1. Please schedule a 15 minute call.

  58. Hi Raghu,
    I am on H4 visa but come under H1B cap exempt too (My petition for H1B got expired on 07-Jan-2017 and I didn’t travel on my H1 even once).
    Given this scenario , do you think it would be wise to move to F1 or shall I pursue some consultancy for H1B sponsorship ?

    Please Advise.


  59. Hi Raghu,
    I’m on H1B, with approved I140, priority date Aug 2013, EB2. My son is in 8th grade now and will go to college after 4 years. He is in H4.
    Can he go to a college in H4? How about his fees? Scholarship? Will he be eligible under my GC application?

  60. Hi Raghu

    I have h4 visa and want to go for f1 study visa. However, due to family conditions I can only do weekend classes or part time courses(preferably online). Can you suggest if it’s possible. If yes which institutes consider part time courses and how much will be approx fee.

  61. Hi,

    I would really appreciate it if you could help me with the following question:

    My husband is on H1B and will get his I-140 this fall. I am on H4 and want to pursue a master’s degree. My question is – I might get my EAD by the end of this year, can I study on this visa status and intern rather than changing to Student Visa? I ask this because the field I am entering into has lesser options for international students and I was hoping if I could retain EAD while studying and interning, I could find jobs easily upon graduation without the sponsorship hassle. I really look forward to your reply. Thank you.

      1. Hi Raghu, can you share your contact number? I would need to discuss more about options to study in US.

  62. Hi Raghu,

    How many months do we need to be on F1 to get OPT?

    Sindura V

  63. Hi I am on h4 I want to change my visa status to f1 my husband will get i140 on next feb so which one is good for me h4 or f1 visa usally in opt how much we will get as a intern

  64. Hi Raghu – My wife is on H4 currently expiring on Dec 31. She has been accepted for Fall semester starting from Sept. I am applying for H1/H4 extension, but if we do not get extension by Dec 31, does she needs to stop study or can continue her studies with the 240 day rule (8 months grace period) pending decision. Any inputs will be helpful.


  65. Hi Raghu

    I am in India and am currently on H4 visa and I am planning to pursue my education from Jan 2018 on H4.Could you please tell me by when I need to apply for colleges?

    Thank you

  66. Hi Raghu,
    I am on h4 visa currently and my husband’s h1b along with my h4b extension is in progress right now. I am studying here in US from spring 2017 and I am looking for COS from h4 to f1 as i will be graduating soon. For COS, which option is better, whether to submit application from here itself in US or go back to india and get the stamping done from there.(Planning to go in august, h4B valid till 3rd august) Considering the fact that our extension applications are in progress for current visa status.

    1. Hi Anubha,

      I am in the same situation. Let me know, did you plan for COS from H4 -F1 here in US or going to India and get stamping from there. Even our extention is in process.


  67. Hi Raghu..
    I am on H4 visa and in India now. I am travelling to USA in Sep 2017.

    I wanted to know the various options available for me to study and find a job in USA.

    I have a Masters degree in computer Science and Engineering from India. What course can I join and what visa ? Which is more applicable?
    Please advice.

    Thank you.

  68. I have H4 visa. Is GRE or TOEFL scores are necessary for pursuing certified financial analyst (CFA) course?

    1. Author

      Talk to the universities you are planning to apply. They will let you know if GRE is Required. TOEFL would be required for non-native speakers.

  69. Hi Rahgu,

    I am currently on H4 visa and carry 8+ years of work experience in IT industry and my husbands green card process and is still in initial stage(i.e in process of labour) . Given the current situations, is it advisable to join a college and get day1 cpt and start work(this will be my first masters and i have a 4 year bachelors from India)or wait for EAD to start working. Please advise


    1. Author

      Swetha, I don’t recommend Day 1 CPT route. Check out the H4 Career Guide course.

  70. Hi Raghu,

    Its been an year staying in US on h4 visa, and my husband(H1-B) is been trying to get his green card initiated but no luck yet. I had a plan to write GRE/TOEFEL and pursue MS but I am currently 7 months pregnant. I am still looking forward to appear for GRE and probably get admission in any in state college. Are there certain Universities/Colleges which provide part time MS in such scenarios? And if we can still get OPT? Please help. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    1. Author

      Its great news when there’s going to be new baby in the family 🙂 First talk to colleges nearby and decide what you want to study. Then find out requirements and then prepare.

  71. Hi Raghu

    I am currently on an H4 visa and have been staying in the US since April 2017. I plan to apply for MS for Fall 2018. I want to study on F1. Would it be possible for me to apply for a brand new F1 when I already have an H4, or will I need to do a Change Of Status? Also, I read on a blog that sometimes F1 gets rejected when we already have an H4? Does that commonly occur?


  72. Hello

    My husband is on his h1b visa now and it will take him few more years to get his green card. He has not been there in that state where he is working now for more than 6 months. So can u suggest me if i can still study on my h4 visa or not in that state.

  73. hello ann,
    i am also in the same boat as yours. let me know if we can discuss and share our knowledge on joining in fall

    1. Hi Deep, I am also in the same boat. Trying to get more information and start MS in the coming fall.

  74. Is it a risk or next to impossible to get H4 changed to F1 in the current scenario?

    1. Author

      I would not attend F1 Visa interview, instead try COS or explore other options.

  75. Hello Raghuram,

    I am currently in India and I have a stamped H4 visa but I have not travelled back to US. I have applied for Masters in some universities and I would like to study on F1 visa. Do I have to go for change of status procedure or Can I apply for F1 visa interview?

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