Cap-Gap Extension

Cap-Gap Extension is an extension of F-1 status for the time between April 1 and September 30 for international students participating in post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT), STEM Extension, or are in their 60 day grace period. To qualify for this extension, the international student must have filed an H-1B petition.

 

Who is eligible for a Cap-Gap Extension?

International students can apply for a Cap-Gap Extension if:

  • The student has never violated the terms of their F-1 student status.
  • The student is the beneficiary of an H-1B petition that:
    • Has been timely filed,
    • Requested an employment start date of October 1 or later; and
    • Requested a change of status.
  • The student is participating in post-completion OPT, STEM Extension, or is in their 60-day grace period as of April 1.
    • If the student is still participating in post-completion OPT or STEM Extension when their employer:
      • files their H1-B petition and
      • the petition is received by USCIS, then
        • the student qualifies for an extension of their employment authorization from the end of their post-completion OPT or STEM Extension end date until September 30.
    • If the student is no longer participating in post-completion OPT or STEM Extension, but is in their 60-day grace period when their employer:
      • files their H1-B petition and
      • the petition is received by USCIS, then
        • the student may remain in status in the U.S. until October 1 when their H1-B work authorization begins, however, the student does not qualify for an extension of employment authorization during that time.

       

Who is NOT eligible for an H1-B visa?

International students CANNOT apply for a Cap-Gap Extension if:

  • The student is the beneficiary filed by:
    • An institution of higher education
    • A non-profit organization related to or affiliated with higher education
    • A non-profit research or government research organization

     

Important Points to Remember

  • Students must allow 5 full business days after submission of a complete application for the Center for International Studies to process their request.
  • International student’s work authorization will automatically terminate upon the rejection, denial, or revocation of the H-1B petition filed on the student’s behalf.  However, the student does have the standard 60-day grace period to remain in the U.S.
  • International students are restricted to no more than 90 days of unemployment (OPT) or 120 days (OPT+STEM Extension) during the Cap-Gap Extension.
  • International students may not travel outside the U.S. during a Cap-Gap Extension period.  A student who elects to travel outside the U.S. during their Cap-Gap Extension period must apply for an H-1B visa at a consular post abroad prior to returning.
  • International students with an approved H-1B who travel internationally must obtain an H-1B visa stamp and may re-enter the country no more than 10 days before their H-1B start date.
  • The 90-day limitation on unemployment during the initial post-completion OPT continues during the Cap-Gap Extension period.
  • International students benefiting from the Cap-Gap Extension do not receive a new EAD, only an amended I-20.
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