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Eligibility for the Cap-Gap Extension

The Cap-Gap Extension is an automatic extension of F-1 status and any current valid OPT work authorization for students who are the beneficiaries of a timely filed, cap-subject, H-1B petition that requests a change of status. 

The Cap-Gap Extension bridges the gap between the end of F-1 status and the start of H-1B status on October 1st, allowing the student to remain in F-1 status until September 30th. If the student is in a period of authorized Post-Completion or STEM OPT on the date the student becomes eligible for the cap-gap extension, the student’s Post-Completion or STEM OPT employment authorization is also automatically extended until September 30th. 

Eligibility Requirements 

The student must be the beneficiary of an H-1B petition that:

  • is subject to the annual cap
  • was timely filed with USCIS
  • requests an employment start date of October 1st of the following fiscal year
  • requests a change of status within the U.S.

During the Cap-Gap Extension period, students must continue to maintain their F-1 status and continue to meet all reporting requirements.

Loss of Eligibility

Students lose the benefit of the cap-gap extension if:

  • The H-1B petition for the student is rejected, denied, or withdrawn.
  • The H-1B petition for the student was approved but the change of status portion was denied.

Students should contact their International Student Advisor whenever there are changes to the H-1B petition filed on behalf of the student to determine if there is an impact on the student’s eligibility for the Cap-Gap Extension.

Request Procedure for the Cap-Gap Extension

The Cap-Gap Extension is generally updated automatically in SEVIS but the ISSS office does not print the new Form I-20 for students unless it is specifically requested.  To request a new Form I-20 reflecting the cap-gap extension, please complete and submit the Cap-Gap Extension I-20 Request Form.  

If the cap-gap extension is not automatically updated in SEVIS, the ISSS office will have to request a correction to the student’s SEVIS Record. This process can take 2-3 weeks to be approved by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). After the correction is approved in SEVIS, ISSS will issue a new Form I-20 to the student.

The Form I-20 will be delivered to the student based on the delivery option indicated on the Cap-Gap Extension I-20 Request Form submitted with the student’s request documents.

Travel During the Cap-Gap Extension

ISSS strongly recommends that students not depart the U.S. during the period of the cap-gap extension until they qualify for travel and re-entry in H-1B status. Students should contact their employer and/or the immigration attorney who filed the H-1B petition if they have plans to travel outside the U.S. during this time.