Fulltime enrollment to school while waiting for H1 to F1 CoS approval


ayz3317

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Hi,

I am currently in my 7th year of H1-B with I-140 approved. Current H1 / i-94 valid until Sept 2020. I have enrolled for part time PhD at a reputed university (top 10) in Aug 2017. I am planning to convert to fulltime student on F1 starting Aug 2018 so that I can finish the degree faster. (No job loss situation involved, genuine intentions)

I am leaning towards filing a change of status application (H1 to F1) to USCIS from within the US. I understand there is a possibility of rejection due to my I-140. 

a) Best case: CoS approved: Even if the request is approved it may not happen before Aug 2018 when the fall semester starts. What are my options then? I am thinking of continuing to work on H1-B till the approval while enrolling to school fulltime (12 credits). This way if the CoS is approved in October, I can seamlessly switch to F1 without going out of status. Is my understanding correct? Can I enroll fulltime to make the H1  to F1 transition smooth?

This link states fulltime enrollment is possible on H1: https://www.murthy.com/2016/10/31/can-h1b-worker-also-attend-school-full-time/

b) Worst case: CoS rejected: I can continue working on my H1-B status. Is this correct?

The school allows fulltime enrollment on H1. I will enroll for research credits which do not affect my work schedule. Employer does not have objection. 

Please let me know if I can proceed with this plan and file CoS. Appreciate your time. 

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Considering the fact that even F1 travel may be difficult with an approved I-140 ,assuming you get the F1 Visa and in view of the importance of attending a top school for ones PhD, I would discuss the matter in detail with a Lawyer, maybe the firm of Murthy and find out what is possible and what is not and also have a chat with your DSO.

If the COS to F1 is denied, you remain in the previous status.

Edited by pontevecchio
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Attorneys are divided on whether one can enroll fulltime to school on H1-B visa.

I had consulted an attorney before posting here.  I was told I can not enroll more than half time on H1-B. 

But later I found the above link where states one can enroll fulltime on H1-B.

Posting here to seek guidance on my options.

How risky is it really to go for F1 stamping in Chennai, India consulate provided I can show I-20 from a top 10 university + tuition waiver/GRA offered along with admission + twice the I-20 amount in savings..? Any experiences from the past?

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This is a bit of a gray area. USCIS officials have said that the status should reflect the main activity.

There is no explicit rule that would forbid enrolling fulltime while on H1. But you need to continue to fulfill the H1 obligations, i.e., you have to work fulltime. Working fulltime and studying fulltime  is pretty much impossible given the mental demands. A PhD basically means you have to do research every waking hour, and that sure would impact your job performance.

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