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Cap-Gap Extension

F-1 students who seek to change to H-1B status may be eligible for a cap-gap extension of status and employment authorization through September 30 of the calendar year for which the H-1B petition is being filed, but only if the H-1B status will begin on October 1.

Cap-Gap is the period between the time your F-1 student status would ordinarily end and your H-1B status begins. If your employer has timely filed an H-1B petition for you as the beneficiary, you may be able to continue working beyond the expiration date on your OPT EAD (Employment Authorization Document, Form I-766) while waiting for the start date of an approved or pending H-1B petition.

There are two types of cap-gap extensions:

Extensions of F-1 status only (eligibility after OPT ends).
If an employer files an H-1B petition with an October 1 start date while you are on your 60 day grace period, you will receive a cap-gap extension of your F-1 status, but will not be authorized to work until USCIS approves the H-1B petition and the H-1B status begins on October 1.

Extensions of F-1 status and OPT.
If you are in F-1 status when an employer files an H-1B petition with an October 1 start date and are currently participating in post-completion OPT, you will receive an automatic cap-gap extension of both your F-1 student status and your authorized period of post-completion OPT. If the H-1B petition is selected and remains pending or is approved, you will remain authorized to work as an F-1 student with OPT through September 30.

Extension Periods

  • A student who is the beneficiary of a properly filed H-1B petition will have their OPT extended to June 1.  If your OPT expires after June 1, there is no need to request a cap gap I-20.
  • A student who is the beneficiary of a receipted or approved H-1B petition will have their I-20 extended to September 30. If your OPT expires after September 30, there is no need to request a cap gap I-20.

 Eligibility

  • An employer filed a timely Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) requesting a change of status to H-1B status.

Note: A petition asking for consular notification is not eligible for a cap gap extension.

  • The H-1B petition asks for an October 1 start date.
  • Your F-1 student status, including any applicable grace period ends between April 1 and September 30.

Cap-Gap Extension Timeline

Depending on the application status, students may be eligible for a cap-gap extension until the date listed below.  

H-1B Application Status

Cap-Gap Extension Until

Filed (with only proof of delivery)

June 1

Receipted or Approved  (I-797C or I-797A)

September 30

Withdrawn or Denied

OPT ends 10 days after date of withdrawal/denial with 60-day grace period thereafter

How to Request a Cap-Gap I-20

  1. Ensure that you have uploaded a copy of your EAD card through our eForm self-service portal or link under My ASU Priority Tasks.
  2. Report your employment (if you have not done so) through using your SEVP Portal Account.

  3. Ensure your current local address is listed in your My ASU.

  4. Complete and submit the Cap-Gap I-20 Request eForm if your H-1B has been filed and your EAD expires before June 1.  Please have the following documents ready to upload:

  • A letter from your employer stating that you are a benificiary on a properly filed H-1B petition, and

  • A copy of proof of delivery to a USCIS Service Center showing the date of receipt.

    or

  • If already received, the Receipt Notice or Approval Notice (I-797C or I-797A).

We will e-mail you when your Cap-Gap I-20 is ready. Our general processing time can take up to 10 business days. If you plan to travel during cap-gap period, please consult with your employer/immigration lawyer as it might affect your H-1B application.

Pending H-1B

SEVIS does not allow us to extend your OPT/F-1 status further. If your H-1B is still pending on Oct. 1, please consult your employer/immigration lawyer about how to handle your employment situation.

Denied H-1B

The extension of status will automatically terminate if your H-1B petition is denied, withdrawn, revoked, rejected, or is not selected, or if the change of status request is denied or withdrawn even if the H-1B petition is approved for consular processing. You will have the standard 60-day grace period from the date the extension of status terminated or your program end date, whichever is later, to depart the United States.

Checking the status of an H1-B petition

There are several ways to check the status of your H-1B petition. Before following any of the methods below you will need to obtain your petition receipt number from the attorney who filed your H-1B petition.

  • Contact USCIS at 1-800-375-5283
  • Visit the USCIS website and click “Check Case Status”
  • Log into your SEVP Portal Account.  Check the end date of your OPT.  If it has been changed to September 30, you most likely have been selected.  Please contact the petitioning attorney for further information.

STEM eligible students are strongly encouraged to apply for the STEM OPT extension before the end date of their Post-OPT.  Having an approved STEM extension will continue your employment eligibility in the event your petition is not selected for processing or your petition is denied. 

Related links:

https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/h-1b-specialty-occupations-dod-cooperative-research-and-development-project-workers-and-fashion-models

https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/2015/04/students-refer-your-h-1b-status-questions-to-uscis

https://egov.uscis.gov/casestatus/landing.do

https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/h-1b-specialty-occupations-and-fashion-models/extension-post-completion-optional-practical-training-opt-and-f-1-status-eligible-students-under-h-1b-cap-gap-regulations

https://www.uscis.gov/i-9-central/745-cap-gap

https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/sevis-help-hub/student-records/fm-status/f-1-cap-gap-extension