What is the difference between F1 visa and H1B visa?

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F1 vs H1B visa

Do You Want To Work & Settle In USA?

Working in the United States of America is a dream for many of us, especially those from an engineering background. In their effort to realize their “American Dream”, many Indians struggle to explore different options, which help them, enter the US and find a job there. While there are many ways to achieve this, three of the most common ways are entry through F1 (student), H1B and L1 (work) visas. Let us have a closer look at these visas:

Definitions

To Start With, Let Us Start By Defining What F1 And H1B Are:

F1 Visa:

An F1 visa is a non-immigrant visa for those wishing to study in the U.S. You must file an F1 visa application if you plan on entering the US to attend a university or college, high school, private elementary school, seminary, conservatory, language training program, or other academic institution.

H1B Visa

The H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in special occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as in architecture, engineering, mathematics, science, and medicine.

Comparison Between F1 & H1

  • H1B As you have seen in the above definitions, if you wish to enter the US on a work visa, you need to be an “expert” in a field, generally STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Management). So, as a fresh B.Tech graduate, you cannot apply for these visas. You need to work for some company (like TCS, Infosys, etc.) at least for 2-3 years and wait for the company to initiate your visa process.
  • In the case of H1B, the foreign employer has to initiate the visa for you.
  • However, in the case of F1 visa, you go as a student and study in a US university. During the course of study, you can work for at most one year during the course of study on Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and for 27 months after completion of your course on Optional Practical Training (OPT). There is also a proposal to increase the duration of OPT to 6 years. Duration
  • Duration for H1B is 6 years. You are supposed to stay outside the US for at least one year on completion of 6 years
  • The duration of stay for F1 is time period (graduation course + CPT + OPT) is 5-6 years

Quota

  • Yearly, only 65,000 H1B visas are issued. The number of applicants would be as high as three or four times this number. So, the visas are allotted based on a lottery system. If you are lucky, your name would be selected. Else, you’ll have to wait till next year. This year the H1B fee is increased.
  • There is no quota on F1 visa

Fee

  • Fee for both H1B and L1 visas has been revised to Rs. 7 lakh approx
  • For F1, it is around Rs. 11,000

Other Expenses

    • For H1B, flight charges and expenses for stay for at least 2 months should be carried along. This comes too close to Rs. 3 lakh. Some of the employers bear these expenses and deduct the same from employee’s salary late.

  • For F1, you need to write GRE, TOEFL/IELTS/PTE, apply to universities, send score reports, book flight, pay tuition fee, have money for living expenses, etc. However, many students get scholarships/assistantships based on their scores in the standard test and academic performance. Also, most universities have on-campus job opportunities, which help students meet their living expenses. So, depending on these factors, the total cost involved in pursuing MS could be anywhere between Rs. 9 lakh – Rs. 40 lakh (for top universities, without any scholarship.

Tax

  • For tax purposes, H1B visa holders are treated as US citizens. That is, you have to pay the same tax as US citizens. However, tax for those working on CPT, OPT is very nominal.

Applying For Green Card

  • All are eligible to apply for Green Card

Our Analysis

So, given all the above information, it can be understood that getting into the US through H1B or L1 is time-consuming, requires external help and could be restrictive. In contrast, F1 visa provides students with a lot of options after completing their education in the US. With the contacts built up during their graduation and with the help of Indian job consultancies in the US, those who go on F1 visas can find jobs easily, on the platforms they like and sometimes even in the locations they wish.

Conclusion:

If you are worried about “wasting” 2 more precious years of your life studying instead of earning, think again. You will find many among your friends and relatives who decided to go for master’s (MS/MBA) abroad after working for a couple of years. You might have thought then that they are wasting their time and money, but now you can see that they are placed in better careers than you are. So, don’t see 2 years as a waste but as an investment.

Please note that the reason for writing this article is not to promote F1 route to go to the US. We just want to lay the facts before you. Ask an employee of any major service-based IT company, you’ll know about the eternal wait of thousands of software engineers for H1 visa. On the other hand, F1 is a much easier gateway to reach your dream destination.

If you are working full-time and aspiring to pursue MS/MBA in the US, please feel free to get in touch with us. We are an overseas education consultancy based in Hyderabad specialized in guiding working professionals. We provide IELTS/TOEFL classes after customizing the course and timing as per our students’ needs and also help them in the preparation of SoP, Resume, LoRs, and other required documentation.

FutureInUSA was started by HR-turned-entrepreneur Chaitanya Vaddi who led HR teams at major IT companies such as Oracle, IBM, Apps Associates, Netxcell and Sunera Tech in a career spanning over 11 years.