While studying in the USA, international students get the opportunity to work for around 20 hours a week amidst classes or full time if there is a university recess or break. To do so, their existing F1 visa is sufficient, keeping in mind that the required permissions are received from the authorities. F1 visa is a type of non-immigrant student visa that allows foreigners to pursue education (academic studies and/or language training programs) in the United States, which is allotted for full-time study via consulates and embassies outside the US.
For an F1 visa, one has to:
- Ensure the authorities that they are able to financially support themselves during the stay.
- And state that they will return to their home country and or are not intending to make a permanent stay in the US. 
But if an F1 visa holder would like to gain practical knowledge and work off-campus for up to a period of 12 months, then they have to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT). With this visa, an international student gets the opportunity to train in their field of study. An international student may find familiarity while working in a US-based company which would help them while applying for other visas such as a permanent residence or green card.
But for an international student to make a career in the US or even apply for a green card, they have to apply for an H1B visa.
To get an H1B visa one can either directly apply from an F1 visa or change their F1 visa status to OPT visa and then obtain an H1B visa.
H1B visa “ allows an individual to enter the United States to temporarily work at an employer in a specialty occupation. The regulations define a specialty occupation as requiring theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in a field of human endeavor…” .
Pre-requisites of an H1B Visa
There are certain prerequisites for getting an H-1B visa. Some of them are:
- The fields in which the applicant applies to should be highly specialized and should include but is not limited to biotechnology, chemistry, computing, architecture, engineering, statistics, physical sciences, journalism, medicine and health: doctors, dentists, nurses, physiotherapists, etc., economics, education, research, law, accounting, business specialties, technical writing, theology, and the arts.
- It is mandatory to attain a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent as a minimum (with the exception of fashion models, who must be “of distinguished merit and ability”).
- the foreign worker must also possess state licensure if required to practice in that field.
Benefits of an H1B Visa
H1B visa has enormous benefits for international students.
- Firstly, it allows the holder to legally work in the US for 3 to 6 years.
- Gain practical as well as theoretical knowledge in relation to their field.
- Bring their spouse or children to the US on an H4 visa.
- As long as their H1B status is maintained, they can travel in and out of the US.
- Apply for the green card. 
How to Change the Status of F1 to H1B Visa
There are 4 ways that one can change their status from F1 to H1B Visa.
1. Find an H1B Sponsoring Employer
The first thing that an international student who is seeking temporary employment or someone who is about to graduate and wish to work in the US after graduation is to find an employer who sponsors their H1B visa. This is not an easy feat for an international student. One might be familiar with finding work quickly in their own country but to find an employer who is willing to recruit a foreign worker can be difficult. One way to find employment or get recruited is through the university, that is, through campus recruitment. Or an even better option is to seek help from their alumni. Making professional relations with alumni of one’s alma mater can open up a lot of opportunities for international students. Alumni Alliances is one such platform that caters not just international students but all graduates, students, and alumni to make meaningful connections with their peers and seniors. This is a faster way to get yourself recruited. To try out Alumni Alliances, sign up today.
2. Filing of H1B Petition on a Timely Basis
There is a certain number of visas allocated each year. The H1B visas allocated under the general category is around 65000 with an additional 20000 allocated for those international students with a master or doctoral degree. 
3. Ensure that the Employer Files Your H1B Petition
Post receiving an employment offer from the employer, ensure that they file the H1B petition on your behalf by the stipulated deadline. If your petition is approved, then you would be granted the H1B status, post which you can start work. Usually, the date for one to start work would be October 1st.
4. If your H1B Petition is Pending…
In the case that your petition is pending, you might like to consider applying for a Cap-Gap Extension. This is similar to a buffer. The cap-gap extension allows an international student to remain on the F1 visa. In an otherwise situation, the F1 visa would expire prior to an H1B approval. Without a cap-gap extension, an international student would have to return to their home country and then apply for an H1B visa from their consulate and then enter the US with the H1B visa. 
Hope this article was helpful to all international students who are working towards obtaining an H1B visa in the US. If you are keen to read more informative and helpful articles like this then bookmark Alumni Insider as well as follow Alumni Alliances via the various social media platforms.
1. Featured Image – Sean Kong
2. F Visa
3. H-1B Visa
4. Image – Priscilla Du Preez
5. F1 to Opt to H1B – Change of Status
6. Image – Jane Carmona
7. F1 to Opt to H1B – Change of Status
8. F1 to Opt to H1B – Change of Status