F1 STEM OPT > H4-EAD/H1b

Hello all!

I’m currently on F1 STEM OPT, in the last year and therefore I have only one shot left at H1b lottery this year. My STEM OPT ends in June 2021. I am trying to understand the order in which I could apply for H4EAD and H1b this year.

I could potentially apply for H4 COS+EAD now in Jan and wait while my company applies for H1b in April. However, I am being told that if they apply for H1b and upon selection the application would be better to do so through Consular processing than Change of status. The H4 application will then be withdrawn. I am not sure if consular processing is a good idea because I wont be able to avail cap-gap and I will need to travel to India/Canada/Mexico to stamp my H1b before my OPT ends during the pandemic. I am not even sure if consulate will have availabilities for new H1b visa processing.

The other option is to apply for H1b and then wait until I hear back the selection results and then apply for H4COS+EAD (this would potentially lead to a gap in employment, therefore undesirable).

Any idea how USCIS works with a pending H4 COS+EAD while applying for the H1b lottery COS?

Has anybody gone through this?