H1B to F1 transition after PERM Approval

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I work for a big tech company on an H1-B visa (6th year of employment). PERM has been filed last year and approved last month. I-140 not filed yet. Filed in EB3.




I wish to leave my job and pursue a PhD and have secured admission to a top 5 engineering school in a different part of the country.  Original plan was to file a change of status from H1-B to F1. International student office directed me to seek immigration advice upon finding out that my PERM  has been approved.




Lived in the US for 9 out of the past 10 years first as undergraduate student, later as H1-B worker. Left the US for 1 year after completing studies to work in Canada before moving back. 




Discarding existing GC application is not a big concern for me. I want to avoid getting stuck in no mans land with transition to F1 status (Example: starting university after quitting work while still waiting for change of status decision which may get denied). I also want to avoid telling my company I am leaving until I have high confidence that my F1 status is approved/in-hand.




I want to ask for advice on the safest route to obtain F1 status (not necessarily visa stamp) so that I can pursue my doctorate.




I am open to options like


1.       Going to home country and appearing for an interview, as long as appearing for interview does not jeopardize my existing employment. I am ok if they give me the F1 stamp and cancel my H1-B (I work in a at-will state, so I can terminate my employment without notice if I need to).


2.       Deferring my start date at university if change of status can be done with higher certainty but just needs more time.



Thanks in advance for your help and input.

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