Hello my name is ***** ***** I am delighted to answer your questions today. I have 35 years experience as an immigration lawyer.
Your approved I-140 does not give you any advantage over any one else seeking to obtain an H1B. It does not exempt you from the lottery unless you have an I-485 that has been filed and pending for 180 days.
AC21 does not apply to cases with just an approved I-140.
So although you can change status from L1B to H1B if you had won a lottery number, you cannot do so simply based on an approved I-140 and no I-485 filed for 180 days.
The AC21 does not provide for extension of the L1B beyond the 5th year. It only allows for extension of H1B beyond the 6th year with a pending PERM, I-140 or an approved I-140.
Therefore, unfortunately, under you situation if you have completed 5 years in L1B status you would have to leave the US and reset the clock by being outside the US for 1 year in order to get a new L1B or to be able to have an employer file for your H1B next April.
You can change your status to F1 and if your program director for your graduate degree finds you have an employment opportunity that is an integral part of your course of study you would possibly qualify for CPT and be able to work under your CPT as a student to buy time here in the US to get an H1B in the next lottery.
Again the work is like an internship and it would have to be a learning experience in which you engage in lieu of attending classes. Only the program director for the Master Program can analyze the job duties to make a decision on whether they will recommend you for CPT and if it is a favorable recommendation, then the DSO at the university can approve your CPT on your I-20 for up to one year.
That is the only option you have to remain in the us.
Then once the H1B kicks in you can get up to a 3 year extension on that change of status based on the approved I-140.
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