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.
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:
If your H-1B petition requests consular processing rather than a change of status, you are not eligible for the Cap Gap Extension.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Follow the directions below to request a new 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If your H-1B petition is withdrawn, denied or rejected, your OPT work authorization will automatically end and you will have a 60-day grace period from that date to depart the U.S. This grace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.
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.
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.