H1b stamped, unused and revoked. Am I cap exempt ?

I got my H1b stamped in 2014 but never got to travel to US. In 2016 I resigned and came to US for a MS program on F1. My H1 has since been revoked on request of my former employer.

Can I utilize my previous approval when my new sponsor files my petition or do I have to go through the lottery again ? I have heard conflicting opinions from attorneys, some claim I wasn’t counted against the cap since I never entered US on H1 and some say that since I already got it approved and stamped, I am already counted and will be considered cap exempt. From a speed perspective is COS advisable or go for consular processing and re-enter. I am planning to take up a job while I pursue my MS classes in the evening.

Yes, I think you are cap exempt. You have to use the previously approved petition number and can apply for transfer.

As you are on F1, continue on your OPT by applying for H1 transfer with COS. It can takes it own time (6-8 months based on current situ, but will improve as they have stopped premium processing now), meanwhile you can continue working on F1-OPT.

I would be eligible for OPT from May onwards. The challenge will be I can only work full time on it till Aug when the new semester starts. Would consular processing be faster ?

You need 2 things - a H-1 petition and H-1 status in order to work on H-1.

  1. If you go for COS route, then you have to wait until petition + COS has been approved, and this could take several months due to PP suspension. COS won’t take additional time, but would be processed along w/ the petition.

  2. If you go for consular processing route, it would still need a new petition and its processing time would be same as #1.

So you don’t save any additional time w/ consular processing. Makes sense?

Can I work full time when the petition has been received rather than wait for the approval. I know that this is the case while porting a H1 from one company to another.

You cannot work until your H-1 COS gets approved. In case of H-1 transfer, you are already on H-1 status and so can work for new employer on the basis of receipt. However, in case of F-1 to H-1 COS, your current status will remain F-1 until COS is approved.