OPT (no extension) Want to apply for H1 on April 1,2013


I am a Masters in Applied Economics student. I recently got a job on OPT and my employer was ready to file for H1. However, the quota got exhausted. My OPT expires on Feb 7,2013 and I am not eligible for STEM extension since I had a non technical Masters. I wish to apply for H1 on April 1,2013. What are my options?

a) Change status from OPT to F1 i.e. take admission in another Masters before OPT expires and then have my employer file for H1 ? How long does the COS process take ? If my OPT expires in Feb next year, when should I take admission in some university?

b) Once I get admission, can I begin working full time again on CPT ? Assuming I get CPT within a month of admission to another school/before April 1,2013 - can I continue working on CPT until I get my H1 approval ? Do I need to stop working on CPT and wait until Oct 1 if I get H1 approved.

c) I do not want a long gap in employment or leave the US. Can I apply for H1 in my OPT 60 day grace period ? The grace period would end on April 8,2013 - If I apply for H1 on April 1 itself - do I qualify for cap gap extension ? Or do I need to leave the US ? Can I continue working if my OPT has already expired ?

There are 2 ways you can deal your situation:

  1. You can legally stay in US until April 8, 2013. So I would suggest applying for H-1B on April 1st via Premium Processing. The advantage of PP is your attorney will get an e-mail receipt with your case number. Then you are automatically eligible for cap-gap. The glitch here is you CANNOT work until Oct 1st 2013 as you applied furing your grace period (non-work authorization period). This is a legitimate way to go and a cleaner way.

  2. If you do not want any lapse in your employment, you can enroll in school and maintain your F1 status. But you CANNOT work on CPT until after 9 months or so of your new program. If some university comes forward to process your CPT right away, I have my own doubts on that university.

If I were you, I would go with option 1. Just my 2 cents!!