Will an Inactive payroll(during personal leave) affect my H1b status?

I am currently in USA on H4 visa. I applied for H1B in the 2017 CAP season and it got picked up in the lottery. I hope to get the approval notice by October this year. I need some clarification on the following queries:

  1. My H4 status is valid only until December 2016; Do we need to apply for the H4 extension this year?

  2. Once I get my H1B approval notice, will my status automatically change to H1 or should we apply for a status change from H4 to H1?

  3. If I am on a personal leave for a few months in H1B visa and if my payroll is not active for that period; will it affect my H1 status?

  4. Is it possible for me to continue to remain in H4 visa for a few more months even after I get my H1B approval notice by Oct 2016?

1, 2. You need to figure out if H-1 was applied w/ COS (change of status) or not. If applied and approved w/ COS, you have to start working on H-1 from Oct 1. No H-4 extension is required in this case. If COS is not applied or applied but not approved, then you remain on H-4 status and H-4 extension needs to be applied.

  1. A person leave so early in tenure could raise red flags. If you want a long personal leave, then move to H-4 status and later decide to come back to H-1 status. If it is related to pregnancy or any other medical reasons, then it may still work out. The onus is on you to show that this personal leave is not a cover-up for benching.

  2. Refer to (1). You cannot be on H-4 if COS is approved. If your COS is approved and you want to remain on H-4, you need to take an action to move to H-4. Is that the case?