How do I transfer an H1B visa to an F1?

So, you have three questions here. I am going to answer them in this order: how to do the change of status, whether you have to return to your country, and whether you’d be eligible to get an H-1B in the future.

Change of status from H-1B to F-1

For future readers, an H-1B is an employment visa. An employer sponsors someone who has (at least) a four-year degree to fill a position that the employer has open and cannot find an American citizen who has the right qualifications. An F-1 visa is a student visa.

To change your status, you must file Form I-539. The thing to keep in mind here is that when you’re here on an F-1, you must have enough existing funds to support yourself during your stay. USCIS only allows extremely limited work options. In order for the USCIS to examine your financial ability to support yourself (and examine your petition), it’s going to take some time.

Returning to your country and difficulty of changing status

No, you do not have to return to your home country. Changing your status can take some time. You may have to do an interview. Your financial status will be examined. Your current H-1B would be void upon receiving the status change. So, based on the time it would take and what you would need to do to show your ability to self-support during your Master’s program, one could certainly consider that difficult. It is easier to do with the help of an immigration attorney.

Getting another H-1B at the end of your studies

When you finish your Master’s program and if you can find an employer willing to sponsor you, yes you can get a second H-1B to finish out the time that you have left on your current H-1B.

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