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Cap Gap Extension

A cap-gap extension automatically extends an eligible F-1 student’s status to bridge the gap between the end of F-1 status and the start of H-1B status.

The cap-gap extension is available to students who, as of April 1st of the calendar year in which they are seeking to begin H-1 B status, are either authorized for post-completion OPT or in their 60-day grace period and have a pending or approved change-of-status H-1B petition with an October 1st start date filed with the USCIS. 

Depending on your situation, the cap-gap extension will either:

  • Extend your OPT work authorization to September 30 if your OPT end date (on your EAD card) is April 1st or later of the calendar year you are seeking to change to H-1B status  

 OR

  • Extend your F-1 “duration of status.”  If your F-1 program of study and/or OPT expired before April 1st of the calendar year you are seeking to change to H-1B status, you are allowed to stay in the US if you otherwise maintain your F-1 status; you are not authorized to work until the H-1B petition is approved and goes into effect October 1.

Cap-Gap Extension Eligibility

Students in all fields of study are eligible for the cap-gap extension as long as the student has not violated the terms or conditions of their F-1 status.  To qualify for the extension, the student must: be the beneficiary of an H-1B petition that:

  1. Has been timely filed (within the acceptance period)
  2. Requests an employment start date of October 1, 2010
  3. Requests a change of status (rather than consular processing)
If an H-1b petition is pending beyond October 1st, a student may remain in the US but must stop working until the H-1b is approved.

Extension of status and work authorization are automatically terminated upon rejection, denial, or revocation of H-1b petition. The 60 day grace period begins immediately following such an action.

How do I apply for the Cap-Gap Extension?

There is no application process for the cap-gap extension.  If your H1B petition has been approved your SEVIS record will automatically be updated to reflect the cap gap extension and your work authorization will be extended to September 30 of the calendar year in which you are seeking to begin H-1 B status  If your H1B petition is pending, your SEVIS record can initially be updated to reflect an extension of OPT until June 1 of the calendar year in which they are seeking to begin H-1 B status (assuming your OPT ended prior to June 1).

To request a cap-gap extension I-20, email scanned copies of the documents below to OIE@esf.edu with the subject: “Attn: Cap-Gap Relief I-20 Request”:  Include the following in the email:

  • Name and SEVIS number
  • SU id number
  • Copy of EAD card indicating employment start and end date
  • Scanned copy of H1B approval (if available) and/or receipt notice
  • Indicate whether you would like to pick up your document or have it mailed to you.  If mailed, include your address (and credit card details if requesting express mailing).

What happens if my H-1B is denied after receiving the cap-gap extension?

If an F-1 student’s H-1B is denied, the student will have the standard 60-day grace period from the date of the rejection notice to depart the US. However, if a denial is based on a discovered status violation, no such grace period exists and the student must leave the US immediately.

What if my OPT expires before April 1st? Will the cap-gap extension extend my OPT?

Although your F-1 status would be extended, your OPT employment period is expired, and the cap-gap does not serve to reinstate or retroactively grant employment authorization. 

You would be required to stop working until Oct. 1st. 

Additional Information


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