The H-1B cap-gap extension allows F-1 students currently on post-completion OPT to continue working if they have a timely-filed H-1B petition requesting change of status and an employment start date of October 1 (the first day of the following fiscal year). An automatic cap-gap extension of an F-1 student's duration of status also applies to the duration of status of the student's dependents in F-2 status.
"Cap-gap" has become the common term used to refer to the "gap" in nonimmigrant status that occurs in a change of status to H-1B, when a student's current nonimmigrant status expires before the requested H-1B start date. For example, an F-1 student with an post-completion OPT end date of June 30 will have duration of status for 60 days beyond that, until August 30. The gap between August 30 and October 1 is a "cap-gap."
Who qualifies for an H-1B cap-gap extension?
Students must have a timely-filed H-1B petition while the student's authorized F-1 duration of status (D/S) admission was still in effect. This includes:
1. Students working on post-completion OPT with an end date on or later than April 1 and have a timely-filed H-1B petition. Students on post-completion OPT may continue to work until 9/30 until the H1B begins on 10/1.
2. Students who are currently in their grace period with a timely-filed H-1B petition. These students may stay in the U.S. until the H-1B begins on 10/1, but are not eligible to work during this time.
The student must not have violated the terms or conditions of his or her F-1 status.
Is there an application or fee for the cap-gap extension?
No. The extension is automatically recorded on your SEVIS record.
How do I get an updated I-20 showing the cap-gap extension?
You may request a cap-gap extension I-20 from OIE to present to your employer. To request a cap-gap I-20, log into iStart and complete the Cap-Gap I-20 Request e-form. You will be required to upload a copy of a receipt notice from USCIS showing that your application was filed in a timely manner and is being adjudicated. Within five business days, an international student advisor will process your request.
Do I have to have a new I-20 showing the cap-gap extension?
No. The cap-gap extension is automatic as long as you have timely-filed H-1B petition. However, some employers request evidence of work authorization or you may be applying for benefits (i.e. renewing a drivers license) that may require a reprint.