I have a question about whether it is permissible to apply for an F1 visa while being sponsored for a cap-exempt H1B visa. I am a degree-holder who studied in the U.S. for 4 years on a F1 visa, graduated, and then worked for an additional year at a non-profit during my post-completion OTP. After completing my OTP, I left the United States.
My (former) employer has agreed to sponsor me for an H1B visa, and they have been preparing my H1B petition but have not filed yet. During this time, I have applied for post-baccalaureate studies at an U.S. university, and I've gotten accepted as a (full-time) student. Now I'm a little unsure of my options, and I would like your advice.
Ordinarily, one would apply for a new F1 visa in order to come to the U.S. to study. However, my (former) employer is already in the process of sponsoring me for an H1B visa (although they have not filed my petition yet). Thus, I have the following questions:
- Is it permissible for me to arrive in the U.S. on a F1 visa, and then 'switch' to an H1B visa once my (former) employer files, and successfully sponsors me for an H1B visa?
- If I apply for an F1 visa, would I jeopardise my F1 visa application due to existence of my H1B sponsorship (whether filed or not filed)? I understand that an F1 visa applicant must demonstrate 'non-immigrant intent,' which an existing H1B sponsorship might call into question.
- Likewise, would I jeopardise my H1B sponsorship if I apply for (or obtain) an F1 visa while I have an active H1B sponsorship, or petition? My H1B petition is for full-time employment, which the existence of an F1 visa might call into question.
My overall goal is to work in the U.S. under the auspices of my H1B visa, while studying part-time for my post-baccalaureate studies. My post-bac. is at a professional school (i.e. 'night school') for working professionals, so I am not worried about actual conflicts between work and studies.
Here are some additional remarks for context:
- My employer has began the process of preparing my H1B petition since September, but their bureaucracy is very slow. I believe they will only be able to file the petition with the U.S. government sometime around mid December, or even early January.
- I hope to arrive in the U.S. in time to start my post-bac program by mid January. Although an H1B visa permits both full and part-time study, I am not convinced that my (cap-exempt) H1B petition will be filed in time for me to receive the visa by January.
- That is why I want to apply for my F1 visa as an 'ordinary' student, arrive in time to begin my studies on January, and then 'switch' to an H1B visa once my (former) employer successfully sponsors my petition. This seems like the only way I can obtain permission to enter the U.S. in time for the beginning of my studies.
- However, I am not sure if my wish is legally permissable, given the above questions.
I hope my questions make sense. Thank you very much for your help!