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.
Cap Gap Extensions
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.
Cap-Gap Extension Eligibility
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.
How to apply for a cap-gap I-20
Travel Outside the USA
Can OGS provide me with updates on the status of my H-1B petition?
Can OGS provide me with a letter concerning employment eligibility or data fixes?
What happens if my H-1B is rejected/denied/withdrawn after applying for the Cap Gap Extension?
If the student’s H-1B petition is selected for processing but then subsequently denied or withdrawn, the student’s OPT ends 10 days after the date of denial/withdrawal. After this the student will have the standard 60-day grace period*, unless the denial is due to a status violation (please see above).
* students cannot work during the 60-day grace period
Can I apply for STEM OPT extension if I have a pending H-1B application?
If you choose to continue on your 24 month extension rather than change to H-1B, you must ensure your employer requests the withdrawal of your H- 1B petition prior to October 1. If this is not done, your H-1B status will begin on October 1, and your eligibility for the 24 month STEM extension will be cancelled.
If you choose to change to H-1B and not proceed with your 24 month STEM extension application, you should send a letter to USCIS, requesting that your STEM application is withdrawn.