Cap-Gap Extension

A Cap-Gap Extension automatically extends an eligible F-1 student’s status to bridge the gap between the end of F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT or STEM Extension) and start of H-1B status (effective Oct. 1), thereby allowing the student to remain in the U.S. during the “gap.”

The Cap-Gap Extension is available to students who, as of April 1, were either on approved OPT or STEM Extension or in their 60-day grace period and have a pending or approved change of status to H-1B application with the USCIS.

This Cap-Gap Extension will produce one of two outcomes, depending on your individual situation:

  • Extension of your OPT or STEM Extension work authorization to Sept. 30. This happens if your approved OPT end date (on your EAD card) is April 1 or later and your employer filed an H-1B application prior to your OPT or STEM Extension end date.
  • Extension of your F-1 “duration of status” but not your work authorization. If your OPT or STEM Extension expired before April 1 and your employer filed an H-1B application during your 60-day grace period, you are allowed to remain in the U.S. if you otherwise maintain your F-1 status, but you are not authorized to work until the H-1B application is approved and goes into effect Oct. 1.

    Cap-Gap Extension FAQs

    Students in all fields of study are eligible for the Cap-Gap Extension as long as the student has not violated the terms or conditions of their F-1 status. To qualify for the Extension, the student must be the beneficiary of an H-1B application that:

    • Is subject to the H-1B cap (applications filed by "Cap exempt" employers do not qualify because the Cap-Gap is not required and the H-1B can begin any day of the year, so it can begin the day after your OPT expires).
    • Has been timely filed (within the acceptance period).
    • Requests an employment start date of Oct. 1.
    • Requests a change of status (rather than consular processing).

    There is no application process with USCIS for the Cap-Gap Extension. If the H-1B application has been received or approved by USCIS, your SEVIS record should automatically reflect the Cap-Gap Extension and your OPT or STEM Extension or F-1 status will be extended to Sept. 30. It is our experience that it may take 2-3 weeks after the H-1B petition filed by your employer is receipted for your SEVIS record to be updated with the Cap-Gap Extension.

    Please note that your OPT or STEM Extension is automatically extended as long as an H-1B application is filed for you BEFORE the end date of your current OPT or STEM Extension. Your employer may require a Cap-Gap I-20 to extend the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form.

    Therefore, 2-3 weeks after you or your employer have received the H-1B receipt notice or approval notice, you may request your Cap-Gap I-20 through the International Student and Scholar (ISSS) Portal. If you or your employer have not received a receipt notice for an H-1B from USCIS, then your SEVIS record is not likely to have the Cap-Gap applied to it and we will not be able to produce an I-20 with the Cap-Gap.

    To submit this request:

    1. Log in to the International Student and Scholar (ISSS) Portal. If you do not have access to the portal please email the Center for International Services with a detailed description of the issue (include screenshots if possible) or visit the Center for International Services during walk-in advising (Monday – Friday from 11 am to 3 pm).
    2. Go to the Student Request Center on the right side of the page.
    3. Go to the Cap-Gap I-20 Request icon.
    4. Complete the Questionnaire.
    5. Upload your H-1B Application Receipt or Approval Notice.
    6. Submit the Request.

    Within 3-5 business days you should receive an email that your Cap-Gap I-20 has been processed and is available in the ISSS Portal.

    If the H-1B petition is denied, you will have the standard 60-day grace period from the date of the rejection notice to depart the U.S. However, if a denial is based on a discovered status violation, no such grace period exists and you must leave the U.S. immediately.

    View additional information on the Cap-Gap Extension.