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
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Can OGS provide me with updates on the status of my H-1B petition?
If you see an update to your OPT authorized dates in the SEVP OPT Portal, then this may mean that there has been an update to your H1B petition. If you notice that your OPT end date has been extended to 9/30, please check with your attorney to confirm if you are subject to Cap Gap extension. OGS cannot confirm the status of your H1B or provide a receipt number for your case.
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.