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.
The Cap Gap Extension is available to students who:
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.
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 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:
*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 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.
To request an I-20 showing the Cap Gap Extension:
If your H-1B petition is withdrawn, denied or rejected, your OPT work authorization will automatically end and you will have a 60-day grace period from that date to depart the U.S., change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.
We recommend that you consult with your attorney prior to planning any international travel during the Cap Gap period.
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.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the implementation of the H-1B registration process for H-1B cap-subject petitions.
Details on this change can be found on the US government's Federal Register website.