F1/OPT to H1B Questionaire – Confused to apply for H1B this year or next year???

Posted on April 14, 2009. Filed under: F1 Visa, H1B | Tags: , , , |

I know that many students are in the situation of whether to apply for H1B this year or not. I have received a question from a student who is in dilemma of whether to use his OPT or to apply for H1B this year.  Below is the list of questions that I have tried my best to answer. 

Q) I have completed my MS recently and have received OPT in last month (i.e March 2009) Is it okay to apply in 2010???


My Answer: If you can make it this year (i.e 2009) that would be really great for you. Since you said you received your OPT last month, I am sure it will expire  around April next year and till OCT 1st  2010 you would need to enroll in some course at some college to keep yourself afloat with status. Try to approach some company quickly and see if they can sponsor you (for H1B) for this year. To the max you might have a 3 day window available to try before you hear from USCIS about the last date of acceptance.


If there is still time/quota, can I make it to this year’s master’s quota??


My Answer: As I said above, dates are almost close but you might want to give a good try by approaching a decent company for sponsorship. As of 8th April USCIS said they received 20,000 Masters application for H1B but said they are still accepting news ones for some more time.  I have posted an article last week where I found 1000 companies who have a good history of getting h1b approvals in 2008, may be you should try and talk to some small companies and check your luck. You got to hurry for it though.



If my employer applies for H1B in 2009, can I still use my OPT for 1 year and then change to H1B?


My Answer: Yes you can use your OPT to the maximum by asking your employer to request for H1B amendment with the last day of OPT as your H1B start date. Just tell them that you want to use your OPT till the last date, they will know what to do. Usually they will try not to use this because they got to pay extra $750 for this amendment so it’s your call to insist it or pay extra.


During OPT, what happens if I travel outside the country??


My Answer: If you see on your OPT card, it clearly says ,” Not for re-entry into the country” but in the past I have heard students going out and coming in with an offer letter from company. However, its not safe anymore to try that since Port Of Entry officials are strict about this kind of transactions. It’s not wise to try and leave country with this OPT card in hand at least for next one year.


What differences in taxes will I see once I move to H1B??


My Answer: OPT students are taxed only 18% where are H1B status people are taxed around 33- 35% on the over all gross pay. So it’s nearly double, try using the OPT till the last date.



If anyone else can suggest other alternative or extra information…. Please comment below.


Note: I am not a lawyer and this is purely out of my own knowledge and understanding. Please do concern your own lawyer for more issues.


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