Frequently Asked Questions

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What if I am NOT eligible for the cap-gap extension?

F-1 students who do not qualify for a cap-gap extension, and whose periods of authorized stay expire before October 1, are required to leave the United States, apply for an H-1B visa at a consular post abroad, and then seek readmission to the United States in H-1B status, for the dates reflected on the approved H-1B petition.

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What is my OPT extension date?

The length of your extension depends on your H-1B petition phase:

  • Filed: If your H-1B petition is filed, your OPT authorization is extended to June 1. (If your regular OPT authorization is valid through June 1, do not request a new I-20 based on H-1B filing only. Wait for the receipt or approval notice.)

  • Selected for receipting: If your H-1B petition is selected for receipting, your OPT authorization is extended to September 30. If your OPT authorization already expired but you were in your 60-day grace period at the time of filing, your F-1 status is extended to September 30th.

  • Approved: If your H-1B petition is approved, your OPT authorization is extended to September 30. If your OPT authorization already expired but you were in your 60-day grace period at the time of filing, your F-1 status is extended to September 30.

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Can the cap-gap extension of OPT be extended beyond September 30 if my H-1B petition is still pending?

No, the cap-gap extension is only until September 30. If the H-1B petition is pending beyond October 1, you can remain in the U.S. based on the pending change of status petition. However, you must stop working until the H-1B petition is approved.

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Can I travel outside the U.S. during a cap-gap extension period and return in F-1 status?

The ISSO recommends that you consult your employer's immigration specialist before traveling internationally during the cap-gap extension period.

A student granted a cap-gap extension who elects to travel outside the United States during the cap-gap extension period, will not be able to return in F-1 status. The student will need to apply for an H-1B visa at a consular post abroad prior to returning. As the H-1B petition is for an October 1 start date, the student should be prepared to adjust his or her travel plans, accordingly.

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Is there a limitation on unemployment during the cap-gap period?

Yes. The 90-day, or 150-day for STEM OPT, limitation on unemployment during the post-completion OPT authorization continues during the cap-gap extension.

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What do I do if I am eligible for cap-gap and Brandeis ISSO discovers that the SEVIS system has not been updated by USCIS to reflect my pending H-1B petition?

If the ISSO checks your SEVIS record and finds that cap-gap has not automatically been applied, then we will have to request a data fix from the SEVIS Help Desk. In these cases, we will have to submit a copy of your EAD card, your H-1B Receipt Notice or your H-1B Approval Notice.

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What if my original OPT expires and my cap-gap Extension data fix is still pending with SEVIS Help Desk?

During this time you must continue to report changes to employment or address information through the SEVP OPT Portal.

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Where can I get more info on the cap-gap extension?

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides thorough cap-gap information.