Understanding Cap Gap Extensions

Cap Gap is the time between the official end-date listed on your Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) and the official start date of an H-1B non-immigrant visa.

Cap gaps are most commonly needed when your Optional Program Training (OPT) ends in the spring or early summer, and your F-1 status expires 60 days after that—leaving a gap of several months before your H-1B status begins on October 1.

If you have maintained all terms and conditions of your F-1 status, cap gap is automatically extended to bridge the time. But continue to check in regularly with your petitioning employer to get status updates on the H-1B petition processing.

For proof of continuing status:

  • Scan and email a copy of your filed-on-time H-1B petition to International Programs and Services.
  • When we confirm that you are eligible for a cap-gap I-20, we will send you a copy of your updated I-20 to show you are eligible to remain and/or work in the US with an expired EAD card.

You Need to Know

If your H-1B change-of-status petition has been filed by your employer but not receipted and your OPT expires before June 1, you are eligible for a preliminary cap-gap extension until June 1.

Contact International Programs and Services to request the preliminary cap-gap extension if your OPT expires before June 1. We need:

  • Your name
  • SEVIS number
  • Copy of EAD card
  • Copy of filed H-1B petition and a FedEx, UPS, or US Postal Service receipt

If United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) denies, rejects, or revokes an H-1B petition filed on behalf of an F-1 student covered by the automatic cap-gap extension of status, the student has the standard 60-day grace period—from the date of the notification of the denial, rejection, or revocation of the petition—before being required to leave the United States.

The 60-day grace period for denied cases does not apply to F-1 students who violated status. If your petition is denied because of this, or because of fraud or misrepresentation, you must immediately leave the country. 

IPS does not process H-1B applications. Students should consult with their employer's attorney or human resources professional for more details about the H-1B process.