F1 to H1B - Consular Processing or Change of Status


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Hello,

I am a STEM Grad student currently in F1 status. My employer is filing for an H1B for me, and I get to choose whether to go by Change of Status or Consular Processing Option. My understanding is that if I file through Change of Status, my F1 automatically gets converted to H1B if my petition is approved and my H1B is picked in the lottery, effective from October 1st. I have no immediate necessity to travel to my home country to get my H1B stamp, and only if I travel internationally, I will be required to have my H1B stamp for re-entry. Is this accurate?

 

I am slightly unclear about the Consular Processing option. One thing is that it allows me to travel during the time in between April-October, but I had the following questions:

1. If my H1B is picked and approved, effective from October 1st, 2019, does it mean I have to travel back to my home country before that date for sure to get my H1B stamped to be eligible to work from Oct 1st? Or can I go at any time within my 1 year of OPT to do the same? (OPT Period - May 2019-May 2020). Also, can I extend my STEM OPT by two years, do I technically have a 3-year slot where I can activate my H1B at any time?

2. Which of these methods is preferable? With respect to processing times and risks involved? I have heard that processing times are currently high for Change of Status, but is it safer than consular processing? It would be great if someone could outline the pros and cons of going with each of these two methods. 

Thank you so much in advance.

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