Services for International Students and Scholars

Cap Gap Extensions

A student’s duration of status, and any post-completion OPT or STEM OPT work authorization, will be automatically extended for an F-1 student who is the beneficiary of a timely-filed H-1B petition requesting change of status and an employment start date of October 1 (the first day of the following fiscal year). This is commonly known as a cap-gap extension.

An H-1B is a nonimmigrant employment visa. Often students on Optional Practical Training (OPT) find that employers are willing to sponsor them and complete an H-1B petition on their behalf. This means that a student will work with their employer and their legal team regarding any and all requirements and questions when filing an H-1B petition.

Please be aware that the responsibility of the Office of Global Services (OGS) regarding H-1B petitions is minimal. The Office of Global Services (OGS) is able to issue a Cap Gap Extension I-20 to students in the following cases:

If your H-1B application was properly filed but no response has been received from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): 

  • If your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) expires before June 1: The OGS will be able to extend your OPT authorization in SEVIS until June 1. Once your H-1B application is accepted by USCIS and you receive a receipt, you can submit a new Cap Gap I-20 Request for an OPT authorization extension through September 30.
  •  If your EAD does not expire before June 1 then your cap gap extension will not be available in SEVIS until your application has been accepted and receipted by USCIS. Please fill out the e-form when you have received a receipt from USCIS.

If your H-1B application was selected for wait-listing:

  •  If your EAD expires before July 28: the OGS will be able to extend your OPT authorization through July 28. Once your H-1B application is accepted by USCIS and you receive a receipt, please refill out the e-form to receive an I- 20 with OPT authorization extension through September 30.

If your H-1B application was approved or selected for processing (receipted):  

  • If your EAD expires between April 1 and September 30: the OGS will be able to issue a Cap Gap I-20 with OPT extension through September 30. Please fill out the e-form to receive an I-20 with OPT authorization extension.
  • If your H-1B application was denied then your cap gap extension ends 10 days after the date of denial.

Please allow 10 business days for processing. You will receive an email when your I-20 is available for pick-up.

A valid EAD card is one of the documents requested for re-entry when a student returns from a trip abroad. If you are on a Cap Gap Extension of OPT and no longer have a valid EAD, travel outside the U.S. is risky. Therefore, travel abroad is NOT recommended during an H-1B Cap Gap extension period.

Can OGS provide me with updates on the status of my H-1B petition?

Please note, the Office of Global Services is unable to provide updates to students on the status of their H-1B petitions (SEVIS updates). If questions exist regarding this matter, please refer to your immigration attorney who has completed the H-1B petition on your behalf.

Can OGS provide me with a letter concerning employment eligibility or data fixes?

The Office Global Services is unable to write letters to employers regarding eligibility to work or data fixes. We will be happy to forward SEVP Policy Guidance regarding these issues. Department of Homeland Security regulations allow you to work if you are eligible for a cap gap extension of OPT, regardless of whether you have a cap gap I-20 or not. Whether your employer will allow you to work is at their discretion.