H4 to F1 – Change of Status [Experience + Timeline]

H4 Visa holders can attend college as Full-time student while on H-4 visa status.

H4 Visa holders have an option to convert to F-1 status, which provides Optional Practical Training benefit along with Assistantships.

Converting from H4 Visa to F1 Visa could be done by two ways:

  1. Visa Stamping
    1. Travel outside the USA,
    2. Attend F-1 Visa Interview
    3. Travel back with F1 Status
  2. Change of Status
    1. Apply for Change of Status application to USCIS
    2. Stamping is still required when traveling

One of our readers Saumya shared her experience changing from H4 to F1 via the Change of Status process and also the F1 Visa interview experience.

H4 to F1: The Timeline

  • 1st Oct 2019 – Sent COS application to USCIS (through mail to Texas SC)
  • 4th Oct 2019 – Got receipt notification SMS
  • 12th Oct 2019 – got receipt notice in the mail
  • 21st Oct 2019 – received a biometric appointment notice
  • 29th Oct 2019 – Gave biometrics
  • 4th Jan 2020 – received COS approval

F1 Visa Interview Booking (emergency appointment) experience

I was looking for visa interview slots since October 2020.

  • 26th Nov 2020 – booked appointment for 17th March 2021
  • 26th Nov 2020 – submitted emergency request (uploaded docs – I20, SEVIS receipt, I797 COS approval notice)
  • 27th Nov 2020 – emergency request approved
  • 27th Nov 2020 – rescheduled the appointment to 15,16 Dec

H4 to F1 Visa Visa Interview experience

  • Appointment time: 10 am
  • In time: 9.15 am
  • Out time: 10.45 am
  • Status: approved

The Interview:

Me: Hello, how are you?
VO: I am good, how are you?
Me: I am good, thanks for asking.

VO: Pass me your passport and I-20. Me : (did)
VO: Sanitise your hands and put your right hand four fingers on the scanner for verification.
Me: (did)

VO: Thank you. So I see that you had an H4 Visa before.
Me: Yes
VO: Who is your H1B?
Me: He is my spouse

VO: Okay, so what made you go back to school again?
Me: I had an undergraduate degree in the same field. I wanted to go for higher education, which would help me upgrade my knowledge, enhance my skills, and learn new and emerging technologies.

VO: Okay, (nodding). Besides your trip from the US to India, have you traveled to any other countries in the past 6 months?
Me: No
VO: What is your spouse’s name?
Me: Told
VO: What does he do?
Me: He is working in (company) as a (position)
VO: How much is his annual income?
Me: $___ per annum.

VO: Is he the one who sponsored you?
Me: No, my father in law sponsored my education.
VO: What does he do?
Me: He is a govt official, works as a _ (position) in _ department.
VO: How much savings he kept aside for your education?
Me: When I started my program, he had 50 lacs of savings. Currently, he has 30 lacs for my last semester. (Spring 2021 would be my last semester).

VO: Okay, okay. Can I see your F1 petition?
Me: Passed COS approval notice.
VO: So, what are your plans after graduation?
Me: My husband’s Visa is expiring at the same time when I will be graduating. So we will return to our home country.

VO: (typing) Sorry, it is taking a little bit longer to process your details.
Me: No problem

VO: These are all your documents, I am keeping your passport, and you will receive it back shortly. Make sure to show your I-20 at the POE when you enter the US.
Me: Sure, I will. Thank you so much. Have a great day.
VO: Thank you, you too.

  • 19 Dec 2020: passport dispatched email was received
  • 21 Dec 2020: picked up the passport

US to India Travel Experience

  • Dallas – Newark – Mumbai – Indore by United Airlines
  • 3 Dec 2020, 4 pm: Did covid RT-PCR test. (Real-time laboratories, Carrolton TX).
  • 5 Dec 2020, 11 am: Got a negative test report. Filled Air Suvidha declaration and quarantine exemption form.
  • 6 Dec 2020: Arrived at Mumbai airport. Asked to show declaration form and negative covid report. ( I showed both on mobile).

India to US Travel experience

  • Date of travel: 27 Dec 2020
  • Indore – Delhi – Newark – Dallas by United airlines
  • 26 Dec 2020, 9 am: Took covid RT-PCR test. It was not mandatory but took it in case someone asks.
  • 26 Dec 2020, 5 pm: Got a negative test report.
  • 28 Dec 2020: Arrived at Newark. The immigration officer asked for my I-20, college name, and program.

If you have questions about H4 to F1 Visa conversion, please comment.


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