Second Masters while on H1 Visa

I came to America in 2011 to pursue Masters Degree in Information Technology. I graduated in 2012 and I am working as a Software Developer since then. After using OPT and Stem Extension I had applied for H1b approved last year and it got approved.

In these recent years, I have started to realize that I need to move up the ladder and try managerial positions. I am planning on doing MBA sometime around Fall 2016. I understand that I can study while I am on H1 but I am interested in going full time because I want to enjoy my college life along with studying which, I feel, I have missed during my first masters.

So I am thinking of converting to F1, I have few questions in mind. I hope you can help me.

  1. I have approached few colleges, I think I would be able to get admission. After getting i-20 what is the process of converting from H1 to F1, do I need to hire an attorney for it? Or can I apply for it by myself.

  2. If I join school in Fall 2016, I would use my 2 years of H1 and I would have 4 years still left. Would I be able to use the unused portion of my H1 after I complete MBA. Do I have to go through the H1 Lottery process again after completion of the program.

  3. I am assuming that I wont get OPT from MBA as it would be my second graduate program in USA. After completion of MBA, how much time do I have to find a employer who would Sponsor me for H1 Visa. Do you think the time is enough time to find a Sponsor.

4)I have not yet filed for Green card, do you think it is advisable to do it before I join school next year.


  1. You can do it yourself. COS (I-539) needs to be filed. You can look-up the requirements online or post here if you have specific question.

  2. You will remain cap-exempt and don’t need to go through the lottery again.

  3. You can stay on F-1 until the time mentioned in your I-20/I-94. After that you have to leave US. So if you want to move to H-1, you need to start the H-1 COS process before the departure date arrives.

  4. There is lot of pre-work before GC is filed. Once you leave your current employer, will they continue to support your GC process? If not, then there is no point to file it. Until your I-140 gets approved, your GC process is at employer’s disposal.

Surabh, thanks for your response. You are right there I don’t see a point in applying for GC, I dont think my employer would support the process after I change my status to F1. Just a few follow up questions.

1)Do I really need to leave the country after I complete my program and apply for COS from F1 to H1. Is it not possible for me to stay in USA during COS.

2)Do I have to leave the country when I apply for COS from H1 to F1?

3)Can I know how long before do you think I need to apply for COS before the start of the program.

  1. I am assuming I cannot work the day after COS is approved for H1 to F1. If there is a gap between start of my program and COS approval, am I allowed to stay in USA during this period.


  1. You can continue to stay inside US while COS is in progress. What I am saying is that COS application needs to be filed before your last authorized date of stay inside US.

  2. Once it has been filed, you can stay for up to 240 days while the application is pending. As your COS would be accompanied w/ H-1 petition, you will have the option to go for premium processing route and get a quicker result.

  3. COS typically takes 2-3 months to process. So you can time that way. At times, the school allows you to enroll on another visa and then move to F-1. So you can file for COS, enroll in school on H-1 (as part-time student) while COS is in progress and then move to full-time once COS has been approved. Check w/ your DSO about it.

  4. I don’t think so. That is why it may be better to go w/ the route I suggested above in (3)

Thanks for being so helpful Saurabh. When I apply for COS from H1 to F1, do I have a choice to specify the date I intend it to get started?
If suppose the approval comes 2 months before the start date of the college, can I work on H1 till the first day of college.
And If I wish to not work after approval, I am allowed to be inside US.

Yes, you can specify a future date. Once you know your school’s start date, you can apply for COS 3-4 months in advance and give that date as the start date.

You will remain on H-1 until that date and should continue to work. Once COS effective date arrives, you can stop working and start your school.

I am not sure how much in advance can a student report for a program. You can search that online or w/ your DSO. Let’s say the grace period is 15 days and your COS gets approved 30 days in advance, then you should leave US and return only when your course is about to start.

Thanks for being so helpful Saurabh!! Have a great day.