Cap Gap Extension

Overview

The OPT Cap Gap Extension automatically extends F-1 students’ immigration status and work authorization in order to bridge the gap between the end of their F-1 status/employment authorization and the start of their cap-subject H-1B.  

Eligibility Requirements

The Cap Gap Extension is available to students who:

  • Have maintained F-1 status while on OPT
  • Have a pending or approved cap-subject H-1B petition requesting a change of status and an October 1 start date 
  • Are currently approved for OPT or STEM OPT (or are in their 60-day grace period following OPT). 

It is important to understand that the USCIS H-1B registration process happens before the H1-B application is filed. To qualify for the OPT Cap Gap Extension the employer must have submitted the Form I-129 to USCIS.  The I-129 and supporting documents must be RECIEVED by USCIS before the expiration of the OPT/STEM EAD (to qualify for an extension of work authorization) or before the end of the 60-day grace period (to qualify for an extension of stay). 

Additional F-1 Cap Gap Extension information can be found on the USCIS website

If your H-1B petition requests consular processing rather than a change of status, you are not eligible for the Cap Gap Extension.

Cap Gap Extension Length

If your H-1B petition was filed and you have the I-797 Receipt Notice or Approval Notice:

If your EAD was valid when the H1-B petition was filed (received by USCIS), your OPT work authorization and F-1 status will both be automatically extended until September 30.

If your EAD was expired and you were in your 60-day grace period when your H-1B petition was received by USCIS, then your F-1 status will be extended until September 30. Since your work authorization expired, this is an extension of stay only; there is no corresponding extension of OPT work authorization. 

If your EAD expires before June 1 and your H-1B petition was filed but not yet receipted by USCIS:

If you do not have an I-797 receipt notice and your OPT will expire before June 1, we can provide a preliminary Cap Gap Extension to June 1 based on proof that your H-1B petition was timely filed.  ISS will need the following documents:

  • A statement from your employer indicating that you are the beneficiary listed on an H-1B petition requesting a change of status and a start date of October 1. 
    • AND
  • Proof of delivery of your H-1B petition to a USCIS Service Center (e.g. Express Courier Delivery Receipt)

*If you were in your 60-day grace period following OPT when your H-1B was received by USCIS, only your F-1 status can be extended to June 1.

To qualify for a Cap Gap Extension beyond June 1, you must receive the I-797 Receipt Notice for your H-1B application. 

Cap Gap Extension End Date

Cap Gap work authorization is valid only through September 30, even if you have an H-1B petition that remains pending on Oct. 1. If you continue to work without authorization, you risk accruing unlawful presence. 

Cap Gap I-20 Application Process

To request an I-20 showing the Cap Gap Extension:

  1. Login to UB Global. If any of your employment details have changed since you last updated your OPT e-forms, please update your residential address on the “Update OPT Student Contact Information” e-form and employment information on the “Add or Update OPT Employment” e-forms.
  2. Click on “Students Currently Approved for OPT” and then “Request for Cap Gap Extension I-20”.
  3. Complete the entire e-form. Please have the relevent documents ready for upload. 
    • H-1B Approval Notice OR 
    • H-1B I-797 Receipt Notice
    • If your EAD expires before June 1, prepare a statement from your employer and proof of delivery to the USCIS. 
    • The I-797 Registration Selection notice is not sufficient to qualify for a Cap Gap Extension. We must see that your H-1B application was submitted and received by USCIS; proof of selection in the registration process does not alone prove that your application was submitted.  
  4. If proper documentation is submitted, ISS will issue a new I-20 reflecting the Cap Gap Extension. In most cases, the new I-20 will be issued within 7-10 business days.  Occasionally, it is necessary for us to make a request to SEVIS for your “cap gap” information to be manually added to your SEVIS record.  If this is necessary, your I-20 may take a few weeks.

What happens if my H-1B petition is withdrawn, denied or rejected?

If your H-1B petition is withdrawn, denied or rejected, your OPT work authorization will automatically end and you will have a 60-day grace period from that date to depart the U.S., change degree level, transfer, change status, as long as you have not otherwise violated your status. 

If the H-1B was denied due to discovery of an immigration status violation or revoked because of fraud or misrepresentation, there is no grace period.

Travel during the Cap Gap Extension

We recommend that you consult with your attorney prior to planning any international travel during the Cap Gap period. 

Important Reminders:

Limits on unemployment time still apply during the Cap Gap period. Please continue to follow all OPT reporting requirements during the Cap Gap period. Please review maintaining your F-1 status while on OPT

If your H1B or other change of status application is approved, you must notify ISS via the UB Global portal. Complete the "Change of Status Notification" e-form.