Cap Gap Extension

Overview

The “cap gap” is the period after F-1 students’ Optional Practical Training has expired, but before their H-1B work authorization begins on October 1.  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 and the start of their H-1B status.  In this way, the students’ employment and stay in the U.S. are not interrupted.

Eligibility Requirements

You are eligible for the Cap Gap Extension if your OPT will end before the start of your H-1B, you have maintained F-1 status and you are the beneficiary of an H-1B petition that:

  • has been properly and timely filed  AND
  • requests an employment start date of October 1  AND
  • requests a change of status to H-1B

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 Dates

The length of your Cap Gap Extension is determined by the status of your H-1B petition and the expiration date of your EAD card.

If Your H-1B Petition is Approved

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

If Your H-1B Petition is Pending

As long as your OPT was valid when the H1-B petition was filed (received by USCIS) and you have an H-1B Receipt Notice, your OPT work authorization will automatically be extended until September 30.

If Your H-1B Petition was Filed, But Not Receipted and your EAD expires before June 1

As long as your OPT was valid when the H1-B petition was filed (received by USCIS), your OPT work authorization can be extended until June 1 and your F-1 status until August 1.  If this is your situation, you will be asked to submit proof to ISS that your application was delivered to the USCIS. To extend beyond June 1, you must have a H-1B Receipt Notice. If your EAD expires after June 1, then you must wait until your petition is receipted before requesting a Cap Gap I-20.

If Your H-1B Petition is Waitlisted

As long as your OPT was valid when the H1-B petition was filed (received by USCIS), your OPT work authorization will automatically be extended until July 28.

If your EAD card expires before your H-1B is filed and you are in your 60-day grace period, you may still file for the Cap Gap Extension. However, because your work authorization has already expired, only your F-1 status will be extended.  Essentially, in this situation you may stay in the U.S.; however, you may not work until your H-1B is approved and effective.

Application Process

Follow the directions below to request a new I-20 showing the Cap Gap Extension.

  1. Login to myISSS by clicking on the blue “LOGIN” button on the left side of the screen and using your UBIT Name and Password.  Do NOT click on “Administrative Services for University Departments”. If any of your employment details have changed since you last updated your OPT e-forms, you must update them again. 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. You must complete the entire e-form and upload all required documents before you can submit your application.  Only documents saved as a PDF or JPEG are acceptable.
    • If you have your H-1B I-797 Receipt Notice you must upload either your:
      • H-1B Approval Notice 
        • OR 
      • H-1B Receipt Notice.
    • If you do not have an I-797 receipt notice and your OPT will expire before June 1, we can extend your I-20 (and work authorization if it was valid when the USCIS received the application) to June 1 based on proof that your H-1B petition was timely filed.  Such proof must include:
      • A statement from your employer indicating that you are the beneficiary listed on a properly filed H-1B petition
        • AND
      • Proof of delivery of your H-1B petition to a USCIS Service Center (e.g. Express Courier Delivery Receipt)
  4. ISS will issue a new I-20 reflecting your Cap Gap Extension on Page 2. In most cases, your new I-20 will be issued within 5-7 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. This grace period cannot be used to complete a SEVIS Transfer.  

Note:  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

If your EAD card is still valid, you may travel outside and re-enter the U.S.  However, please consult with your immigration attorney regarding any travel plans while your H-1B petition is pending and after it has been approved.

Important Reminders:

To review the information on maintaining your F-1 status while on OPT. It is extremely important that you adhere to all reporting requirements.

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