CAP-GAP Extension of OPT

The H-1B Cap-Gap extension bridges the gap of time between the end of your F-1 status (including OPT work authorization) and the start of H-1B status, a status where the individual's primary purpose is to work for a specific employer.

The H-1B Cap limits the number of individuals who may be granted initial H-1B status during each year. The cap is currently set at 65,000 plus 20,000 more for those with higher degrees (U.S. masters’ degree or higher). Employees who will work at institutions of higher education or other specific nonprofit affiliates are exempt from the cap.

To be eligible for the automatic Cap-Gap extension, your post-completion OPT must be valid at the time of your cap-subject H-1B petition filing (with the Form I-129 submitted for change of status and an employment start date of October 1). Otherwise, if you are in a valid 60-day grace period on the day your H-1B petition is filed, your lawful F-1 status is in the U.S. is extended, but you will not have work authorization during the gap period. 

Work authorization on Cap-Gap is valid until September 30 for receipted petitions unless the H-1B petition is denied, withdrawn or revoked.

Evidence of work authorization: A new Employment Authorization Document (EAD) will NOT be issued for Cap-Gap Extension. The Cap-Gap extension is automatic within your SEVIS record (you can also check the status under your SEVP Portal account). If you would like a new Form I-20 showing the extension, use the Cap-Gap Request Form below. You must have received the receipt notice (I-797 Notice of Action) from USCIS; being selected in the H-1B registration lottery alone is not enough for the extension. 

Travel during the Cap-Gap extension is possible; however, individuals should use caution before deciding to travel during this period. Individuals should consult with their employer and immigration attorney. The H-1B must be approved prior to departure and students are advised to travel will all required documents, including their H-1B receipt and an updated Form I-20 reflecting the Gap-Gap extension. It is not advisable to apply for a new F-1 visa during this extension. For additional information, view USCIS guidance.

Cap-Gap Extension Request

If you meet all of the following criteria, you may be eligible for a Cap-Gap Extension.

  1. You have maintained F-1 status and complied with OPT employment requirements.
  2. You had an H-1B petition filed on your behalf before the end of your OPT
  3. Your H-1B petitioning employer is a cap-subject employer.
  4. The H-1B petition was filed as a "Change of Status" petition. (If your employer/attorney filed your petition as "consular processing" you are NOT eligible for the Cap-Gap Extension.)
  5. You were selected in the H-1B registration lottery.
  6. You have a USCIS Receipt Notice (I-797 Notice of Action)

While the Cap-Gap Extension is automatic, you can submit a request to ISSS to obtain a new Form I-20 showing the cap-gap extension.

Access the Active OPT Quick Links