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How can STEM students change their visa status from F1 to H1-B?

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

Studying abroad can be both a daunting and exciting endeavor. It allows international students to expand their worldviews and gain once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Overseas students in Texas, for example, like the state’s climate, low cost of living, and interesting universities and colleges. The government of Texas also pushes for education initiatives to secure the future of students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

It is no wonder why international students hope to pursue a career or a higher degree in STEM post-graduation. However, pursuing a career in the United States will require another process—much like when you earned your F1 visa—as you would need an H1-B visa. Regardless of what your higher education and long-term career plans may be, here are practical tips on how to shift from F1 to H1-B visa status:

Look for an employer way ahead of time

Your future employer will sponsor your H1-B visa. Sponsoring your visa means they will write the petition for a change of visa status, permitting you to work in the States. Even before graduating or finishing your program, you should already find an eager employer who can sponsor your H1-B visa.

Students with F1 visas can stay in the States for 60 days after graduation, but finding an employer related to your program way before graduation can increase your chances of securing an H1-B visa. Every year, only 65,000 H1-B visas are issued for the general category and only 20,000 for people with master’s, doctoral and other higher degrees. You want to make sure that you can secure your slot for visa approval way ahead of time.

Work with an immigration lawyer

Changing your visa status will require several administrative processes with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. An immigration attorney can help you in this endeavor. If your visa also requires a hearing, they can represent you in court while you focus on finishing your studies and living a meaningful life overseas.

Pursuing education and a career in STEM overseas can require tedious processes, but you do not have to go through it alone. Finding an employer who is eager to support you in your career ambition as well as finding an experienced immigration lawyer, can help you reach your next milestone in your chosen field.

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