Saturday, March 13, 2010

Challenges after MBA admit- visa woes

4/23/2012 Update (copied verbatim from my GMATClub post dated 5/23/2011)

I initially decided to take the H4 route and not bother with applying for F1 etc as my I-140 was approved and I didn't want to risk not getting F1. I finally took an unpaid sabbatical from my company and started my MBA (on H1B). Around November, I figured that finding an internship outside of USA and on top of that returning to USA from the internship on an H1 (but on sabbatical and studying full time) might be even more complicated. So I mustered courage, prayed a lot and took the leap of faith. Yes, in other words I applied for an F1 CoS in Nov/Dec.

I consulted many lawyers and eventually used a lawyer in NYC who was referred by a friend. (If you need details email me, my email is listed in the comments). The lawyer helped me out and we successfully got a F1 approval CoS around Feb, 2011. I resigned from the employer once the CoS got approved. I went to India during spring break and got my F1 stamped without any trouble.

Now, as per my lawyer if the next employer of mine post MBA applies for GC, they should be able to use my approved I-140 and request USCIS to use same priority date. But then again, no guarantee if they will use it or not. I'll find out that when the time comes. For now, I'm happily interning in the fields of my choice in NYC

For most of us, getting the admit is the last step in this tough journey. They have access to funding, no immigration issues and can start planning for vacations, pre-MBA internships and what not.

For the unfortunate few, the misery continues. Having first applied in 2008 unsuccessfully (2 waitlists), I was eager to get an admit ASAP in 2009 as a reapplicant. CBS ED worked out in my favor and I was looking forward to packing my bags as soon as I got my admit in November. New Year brought with it new challenges-  no-cosigner loan was becoming a major issue unexpectedly, and my visa became even bigger concern- a green card application in process (I-140 approved stage) meant transfer to F1 visa is not straightforward. I spent the months of Jan and Feb frantically searching through all forums to find an answer. Different people said different things, tough luck.

I then approached a lawyer who recommended pursuing part time MBA instead. I was devastated. First ray of hope came through a current student at Wharton. I found him in one forum, he had left his email ID in a message posted in 2008, thank god for that. He was very kind and gave me good advice. I then found another lawyer who suggested me options I could pursue, things were looking better. There was still no certainty but at least all hope was not lost. Meanwhile, I decided to hedge my risk by trying to secure an admit from schools in EU. I did it, I submitted my application a week ago on time for R3 @ LBS. I'm hopeful something will work out in my favor, but these past few months have been very tough on me and my family. I'm lucky to have a supporting wife and parents. Without them, I'd have given up long ago.

Right now, I've secured my I-20 and I'm going to tell my employer about my MBA admit and request to withdraw my greencard application. Hope it doesn't create any problem for my current job. I need my job till I get my F1 visa approved through change of status. Wish me luck!

For the sake of people having similar issues out there, here is a comprehensive plan of action.

1. Secure I-20 from business school by arranging for funding
2. Withdraw I-140 by requesting the employer. They should send a letter to immigrations.
3. Take a copy of this letter, and create documents that support your intent to go back to your country after MBA...real estate in your name, family ties, a job offer from your country etc and apply for Change of Status from H1b to F1 while being in USA.
4. Change of status takes 2.5 months on average
5. You need not go to your country to stamp, instead you could just change to F1 status while being in USA and start MBA. You need to stamp F1 only when you leave USA (in order to return). So you can go while in school and get it stamped in order to have ability to freely travel in and out of USA during your F1.
6. You needn't apply for change of status while being in USA instead once you withdraw I-140 you can just resign and go to your country and apply for F1 from there. From what I have heard, change of status seems to be less risky than applying through consulate.


  1. Hi,
    Just curious what did you end up doing. If you are in CBS, congrats - its an excellent school =)
    Im in a somewhat similar situation. Although, I've not applied to schools yet. I'm on I-485 stage.

  2. Thank you very much for posting your experience. I got into Chicago Booth recently and quickly found out about the challenges with moving from an H1-B to an F1 visa after submitting and I-140.

    Your plan of action will be very helpful to me. I am going to reference your post in a few forums.

    Thanks again, and best of luck at Columbia.

  3. Could you please how it went?

  4. I am guessing you got your COS. Good for you. I am in the same boat. It would greatly help if you could write with as much detail what happened, how you succeeded getting COS.

  5. If you are experiencing same issue and need more info on how to proceed please email me and I'll be glad to help you out. prasanthsr11 at gmail

  6. Why did you pick booth over CBS?

  7. Please help. A detailed post on how to get COS would really help. In the same boat now.

  8. Please read the post in "red" color for latest update. You may contact me via email to get more info on lawyer etc. Email is available in an earlier comment

  9. Regarding Booth vs Columbia, I preferred to study in the city where I wanted to work after graduation. They are all great schools and will give you similar opportunities and challenges.

  10. Thanks Praz for this blog post. It was really helpful. I sent you an email regarding my concerns. If you could please respond to my email, that will be much appreciated.

  11. F-1 visa is fairly simple to apply for and lets you stay & travel throughout the U.S as long as you are a student and also provides you opportunity to bring your Spouse and any children under the age of 21 into the country while you are here studying.

    F-1 Visa

  12. Hi,

    Can I please talk to you regarding MBA After I140 is approved. I plan on doing an MBA in the US if possible. Your blog is like God send for me.

    Please please spare few minutes to talk to me about the same.
    Thank you beforehand

  13. Hi Praz,

    I sent you an email. Could you please take a look at it ?

    Thank you so much,

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. Hi Prasanth,
    I got your email id from one of the online forums. I think I'm facing a situation similar to what you had faced. I have worked for an employer on H1-B for 7 years, my present H1 expires in Sept 2017. It got approved for 3 years after the 6 years because I have an approved I-140.
    Now I want to pursue an MBA but seems like visa issues may cause problems.

    I read your post regarding cancelling the I-140 and then getting an F1.

    Is there a way to get F1 and not cancel your I-140, so that when I graduate from MBA in 2018, I can keep my priority date, not be subject to H1 cap, and not have to live outside the USA for one year.

    Thanks a lot for your help.

    Best Regards

  16. Hi Anon,

    Are you still looking for answers ?.
    Can i please talk to you about the same ?

  17. Prashanth, what route did you take? I am in exactly the same situation. Thanks

  18. The post is useful and it would really help for those who search for GMAT coaching | Best GMAT Coaching Centre | Sandeep Gupta | Top One Percent Gmat

  19. Hello Prasanth, Can you provide email id here.I would like to email you something. Plz

  20. Hello Prasanth, Can you provide email id here.I would like to email you something. Plz