H-1B Cap-Gap Extension


A Cap-Gap extension is a regulatory provision that extends an eligible F-1 student's OPT or STEM OPT employment authorization past the OPT/STEM OPT end date based on an appropriately filed “change of status” H-1B petition with an October 1st start date.


You are eligible for a Cap-Gap extension if your employer submits a timely filed change of status to H-1B petition to USCIS on your behalf. Please see more information about the H-1B process on the USCIS website. You may be eligible for one of two Cap-Gap Extensions:

  • If your employer filed your H-1B petition and received a USCIS Receipt Notice prior to your OPT/STEM OPT end date, you are eligible for an extension of your OPT employment authorization through September 30th.

  • If your employer filed your H-1B petition during your 60-day grace period, you will receive the automatic extension of your F-1 status, but will not be authorized to work.   You can remain in the U.S. through the extension date but you are not authorized to work. 


How to Apply for a Cap-Gap Form I-20

The Cap-Gap Extension for F-1 students is typically automatic. When an employer submits an H-1B petition to USCIS, the Cap-Gap Extension for F-1 students is typically automatic within SEVIS. However, Students should contact their ISSO Advisor to see if their Cap-Gap Extension has been automatically updated in SEVIS and how to request a Cap-Gap Form I-20.

If Your OPT Ends Before April 1st

A student whose OPT expires prior to April 1st and is in their F-1 grace period, is eligible for an extension of status ONLY, but not work authorization.  The student may begin employment with the H-1B petitioner when the H-1B petition is approved, or October 1, whichever is later.

Can I Travel Internationally During Cap-Gap?

Consult your employer's immigration attorney or Human Resources Department about all international travel, once you have applied for H-1B status.

STEM OPT Extension During Cap-Gap 

Students may apply for a STEM OPT Extension during the Cap-Gap period.  Due to the limited SEVIS database technical functionality, the dates on the STEM OPT Form I-20 do not print accurately, since they overlap with the Cap-Gap Extension.  Please consult with your ISSO Advisor and your Immigration Attorney for clarification on this process.