Cap-Gap

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Cap Gap is the period between the time your F-1 student status would ordinarily end, and October 1 when your H-1B status should begin. If your employer has timely filed an H-1B petition for you as the beneficiary, your F-1 status will automatically be extended. You may continue working until September 30 only if your petition is filed prior to the expiration of your Post-OPT/STEM OPT extension.  If your petition was filed during your grace period, you may remain in the U.S. however you will not be eligible to continue working.

Cap Gap is not available for F-1 students whose H-1B application is Consular Processing or Cap Exempt.

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 in 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-OPT, you will receive an automatic cap-gap extension of both your F-1 student status and your authorized period of Post-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 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.  Please consult with your employer or immigration attorney if your petition was filed for consular notification. 

  • 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.

How to Request a Cap-Gap I-20

  1. Ensure that you have uploaded a copy of your EAD card through the ISSC eForm Portal or link under My ASU Priority Tasks.

  2. Report or update your employment (if you have not done so) through the SEVP Portal  (Post-OPT) or the ISSC eForm Portal (STEM). 

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

  4. Complete and submit the Replacement for I-20 eForm through the ISSC eForm Portal.  Please have one of the following documents ready to upload:

  • Receipt Notice (1-797C)

or

  • Approval Notice (I-797A)

ISSC 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 the cap-gap period, please consult with your employer/immigration lawyer as traveling or leaving the US might affect your H-1B application.

Pending H-1B

If your H-1B is still pending on October 1, please consult your employer/immigration lawyer about how to handle your employment situation.

Rejected, Denied, Withdrawn, or Revoked H-1B

Your cap-gap extension and/or OPT/STEM work authorization automatically terminates upon the rejection, denial, withdrawal, or revocation of the H-1B petition. You will be entitled to a 60-day grace period from the date of the notification.

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. 

H-1B Lottery Results

If you are seeking the status of your H-1B petition, have your petition’s receipt number available and please contact USCIS at 1-800-375-5283, or log onto the USCIS Web page and click “Check Your Case Status” for the latest information on your petition. USCIS manages the H-1B program and is best equipped to answer your questions, not the ISSC.

If you have access to the SEVP Portal and are able to see information on end dates, and if your end date for your OPT was extended to 09/30/2020, it is likely you have made the H-1B lottery. 

If this is the case, you can ask your attorney who filed the H-1B petition for you whether they have received any information about its status. You will need the receipt number from your attorney in order to check the status with USCIS. If they have not received it yet, please wait until they do so you can check its status. 

The ISSC website has instructions regarding how to request a cap-gap I-20 in the event your OPT is ending prior to September 30, 2020. This will allow you to extend your work authorization to September 30, 2020.

Also, we highly suggest that students eligible for a STEM extension submit the application before your Post-OPT ends, if you have not done so already, as a back-up plan if you do not make the lottery or if your H-1B case gets denied. 

 

A common error is SEVIS completing records for students whose H-1B was approved for consular processing. In order for ISSC to request your F1 status be reactivated, you must have adhered to all reporting requirements. It's your responsibility to report on time. Although you are set up to receive reminder emails, they may not work as designed. Please make sure you are setting reminders to report regularly.