Cap Gap Extension


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

H-1B Registration Process

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires an 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.

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 H-1B application is actually filed.  To qualify for the OPT Cap Gap Extension your H-1B must have been chosen in the registration process AND 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 H-1B 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. 

Cap Gap work authorization is valid only through September 30, even if your H-1B petition remains pending on Oct. 1. If your H-1B is not approved by October 1, we recommend consulting your attorney to discuss your situation. ISS cannot provide you with an additional Cap Gap Extension to continue employment beyond September 30. 

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 details, please update your residential address and employment information as described on Maintaining Status for OPT or Maintaining Status on STEM OPT.
  2. Click on “Optional Practical Training” and then “Request for Cap Gap Extension I-20”.
  3. Complete the entire e-form. Please have the relevant documents ready for upload. 
    • H-1B Approval Notice OR 
    • H-1B I-797 Receipt Notice
    • 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 as listed on our e-form processing page.  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., 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 H-1B or other change of status application is approved, you must notify ISS via the UB Global portal. Complete the "Request to End F-1 Status" e-form.