Currently, I am in the first year of my OPT and I am selected in H1-B lottery for this year. I was thinking that can I file H1-B on consular access and get a STEM extension for the OPT. Then get the H1-B stamping done later (As much as I can push it while staying in the time limit allowed by USCIS to get the stamping done). What could be pros and cons of this?

How much time are we allowed to get the H1-B stamped after it being approved for the consular process?

I also wanted to know that with the H1-B consular access application filed and my work permit being being STEM-OPT, can I travel in and out of the US (to my home country + foreign countries multiple times)? I may or may not get the H1B stamped on my first visit. I will get that some time in the later visits only. Is this feasible?

Please feel free to get back to me if you need some more details.


1 Answer 1


How much time are we allowed to get the H-1B stamped after it being approved for the consular process?

Once you are in H-1B status, you need an H-1B visa to enter the US. You can begin your H-1B status in one of two ways. One way is to leave the US, get an H-1B visa in your passport, and return to the US. The other way is to do an in-country change of status.

In the second case, you do not need an H-1B visa at all, because you only need it when you want to enter the US, and you're already in the US. You need the visa only if you want to leave the US and then return in H-1B status. To do that, you'll need to make sure that your first trip outside the US allows you to visit a US consulate, apply for a visa, and wait for the application to be processed.

While you are awaiting the approval of your H-1B status, you can leave and enter the US only if you continue to be eligible to enter the US in F-1 status. Once your F-1 status ends, you will need a new status to re-enter the US. This also applies if you leave the US during any grace period, because the grace period ends as soon as you leave the US.

I don't see any benefit to trying to continue on OPT after the H-1B is approved. It seems much simpler just to take the H-1B as soon as it's available. Whether you do that through an in-country change of status or by leaving the country (and getting a visa and returning) depends more on your travel plans than on anything else.

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