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.
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:
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.
If your H-1B petition was filed and you have the I-797 Receipt Notice or Approval Notice:
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.
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If your H-1B petition is withdrawn, denied or rejected, your OPT work authorization will automatically end and you will have a 60-day grace period from that date to depart the U.S., as long as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 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.