F1 to H4 EAD change of status questions

Hi Everyone,
I am currently working on F1 OPT which is expiring on July 8, 2022. My husband has approved I-140. I am planning to move from F1 to H4-EAD. I have some questions regarding that:

  1. My employer’s attorney told me that they cannot file H4 and H4EAD before 180 days of my F1 OPT expiration which is Jan 10, 2022. Is it true? (I did not find any official link or document regarding that)
  2. Current processing times for I-539 (F1 to H4 COS) is showing atleast 10 months on every center, and it is going max till 14 months. If there is anyone who has gone through this process recently and confirm the processing times? If there is premium processing option available for F1 to H4 application with some extra fees which can expedite the process?
  3. What happens if I apply for H4 and H4-EAD on January 10,2022 and the application doesn’t get approved till July 9, 2022? Will I have to take a break in employment?
  4. If answer to previous question is yes, Can I apply for H4 and H4-EAD now with start date as 180 days from today? I understand that this will overlap with F1-OPT but if the H4 gets approved, then I don’t have to take a break in employment?
  5. In the scenario mentioned in point (4), if the H4 doesn’t get approved in 180 days from filing from today, Can I continue to work on F1 OPT till F1-OPT expires or H4 application gets approved?
  6. I have one more chance available for H1B lottery next year. How does all the above scenarios impact the application for H1B lottery next year?

Apologies for asking a lot of questions. I hope you can understand that some of these laws are unclear, and I do not want a break in employment.

As per my knowledge, extension of status (EOS)can’t be applied more than 180 days before the expiry of the status however change of status (COS) which in your case is F1 to H4, can be applied any time while you are in any valid non-immigrant status.

The processing time will depend on the center processing your application and it can change dynamically based on USCIS workload. There is no premium processing available at this time for change of status from F1 to H4.

Once your F1 OPT EAD expires you will need to stop working. You can only resume after receiving your H4 EAD.

As I mentioned above, COS application can be started any time (not sure why your attorney is saying otherwise). You can keep working on OPT EAD while your COS application is being processed. If H4 & H4 EAD is approved before OPT EAD expires, you can keep working and present the H4 EAD to your employer so they can update your I-9. If OPT EAD expires before H4 & H4 EAD is approved, you will need to stop working at the day your OPT EAD expires.

Answered above.

There is no impact what-so-ever on H1B application. If selected and approved, your H1B status will start from 1st October 2022. If your H4 & H-4 EAD is not approved by the time you file your H1B application, you will need to file Cap-Gap extension which will allow you to extend your F1 OPT EAD up to 30th September 2022 so you can keep working on OPT till you transition to H1B on 1st October 2022.
If say H4 & H-4 EAD gets approved before your F1 OPT EAD expires, you will be in H4 status from when H4 is approved till you transition to H1B on 1st October 2022. You can keep working on H4 EAD during this period.
You will also need to make sure that your H1B employer files H1B petition along with Change of Status from F1/H4 (depending on what your status is at the time of H1B filing) to H1B instead of consular processing (which requires you to leave the US and go for visa stamping).