Cap Gap Extension

F-1 students who are the beneficiary of a timely-filed H-1B petition may be eligible for an extension of work authorization called the “cap gap” extension. You may learn more about the cap gap extension on the USCIS website. If your petition was filed but has not yet been receipted, you are eligible for an extension until June 1. If your current OPT or STEM OPT end date is after June 1, you should wait until you receive a receipt or approval notice before requesting a cap gap I-20. If your H-1B petition has been receipted or approved by USCIS, you are eligible for a cap gap extension until September 30. If your H-1B petition is later denied, rejected, revoked, or withdrawn, your cap gap authorization will end as of that date. Please note that ISSS does not recommend traveling outside the U.S. during a cap gap extension.

F-1 students who are in their 60-day grace period when an H-1B petition is filed are eligible for an extension of F-1 status only and will not be eligible to work during that time. Students are only eligible to work if the H-1B petition is filed prior to the end date on the EAD. 

Note: USCIS has implemented a registration and selection process that occurs in March. If your employer's registration for you is selected in this process, they will be able to file an H-1B petition on your behalf. The selection process does not count as filing a petition. For cap gap purposes, the date on which your employer files the complete petition is the determining factor for eligibility. 

Eligibility

  • You must be in valid F-1 status.
  • You must be the beneficiary of an H-1B change of status petition that was filed while you were still in a period of OPT or STEM OPT in order to be eligible for an extension of work authorization. 
  • If your H-1B change of status petition was filed while you were in your grace period, you may be eligible for an extension of stay only but may not work during that time.
  • Your employer must be subject to the cap on H-1B petitions. Check with your employer to confirm whether your organization is subject to the H-1B cap.
  • The H-1B must have been filed as a change of status with a start date of October 1. If your petition was filed for consular processing, you are not eligible for a cap gap extension.

How to apply

Gather the required documentation

  • If your H-1B has been received but you do not have a receipt or approval notice, you will need
    • Letter from your employer confirming that you are the beneficiary of an H-1B change of status petition.
    • Proof of delivery to a USCIS Service Center with the date the petition was received.
  • If your H-1B has been receipted or approved, you will need a copy of the receipt or approval notice. 

Submit the Cap Gap I-20 Request e-form

You must submit the Cap Gap I-20 Request e-form online. You will need to upload the required documentation and confirm how you would like to receive your I-20.
If you are not able to pick up your I-20 in person, you will need to confirm how you would like to receive your I-20. You may choose to have the I-20 sent via US Postal Service or via UPS CampusShip (Express Mail) at your expense. If you wish to have your I-20 sent via Express Mail, you must complete the Express Mail request e-form and follow the instructions to submit payment. If you do not complete payment for the Express Mail shipment within 7 days, your I-20 will be sent via regular US Postal Service.

ISSS will review and process your request

ISSS processing time is typically 5-10 business days but may be longer if your SEVIS record was not updated with H-1B information automatically by USCIS. You will receive an email from ISSS when your new I-20 has been issued. 

Reporting requirements on Cap Gap

  • If you are on Post-completion OPT and your employment changes, you must inform ISSS by submitting the OPT Employer Information e-form.
  • If you are on the STEM OPT Extension, you must report any changes in employment using the Report STEM OPT Employment e-form. You must also use that form to submit all required evaluations, including a final evaluation before your H-1B starts.
  • You must inform ISSS if your H-1B petition is denied, rejected, revoked, or withdrawn.