International Student and Scholar Services

Cap-Gap

A Cap-Gap extends F-1 status between April 1 and Sept. 30 for qualified students who have applied for H-1B.

Eligibility

Students can apply for it if:
  • They have never violated terms of their F-1 status.
  • They are the beneficiary of an H-1B petition that:
    • Has been timely filed,
    • Requested an employment start date of Oct. 1 or later; and
    • Requested a change of status.
  • The student is participating in post-completion Optional Practical Training, STEM Extension, or is in their 60-day grace period as of April 1.
    • The student qualifies for an extension until Sept. 30 if they are participating in post-completion Optional Practical Training or STEM Extension when their employer files their H1-B petition and the petition is received by USCIS.
    • The student qualifies for an extension until Oct. 1 when their work authorization begins if they are no longer participating in post-completion Optional Practical Training or STEM Extension, but are in their 60-day grace period when their employer files their H1-B petition and the petition is received by USCIS.
      • The student does not qualify for an extension of employment authorization during that time.
Students cannot apply for a Cap-Gap extension if:
  • The student is the beneficiary of an H-1B petition filed by:
    • An institution of higher education.
    • A nonprofit organization related to or affiliated with higher education.
    • A nonprofit research or government research organization.
  • The receipt of an H-1B Registration Selection Notice does not qualify an F-1 student for cap-gap extensions. Petitions requesting a status change via consular processing also do not qualify for cap-gap extension.

Application

A student should:
  • Complete all sections of the application packet, which include the following:
    • Cap-Gap I-20 Request form.
    • Statement from the employer that student is the beneficiary of a timely filed H-1B application and an application for change of status from F-1 to H-1B.
    • Proof of delivery to the USCIS Service Center (extension until June 1).
    • Proof that the application is approved, pending or wait listed.
      • Photocopy of the receipt notice (extension until Sept. 30).
      • Photocopy of the wait list notification (extension until July 28).
      • Photocopy of the approval notice (extension until Sept. 30).
  • Drop off or mail their application packet to the Center for International Studies for review.
Center for International Studies
Lawrence Hall 101
720 Fourth Ave. S
St. Cloud, MN 56301
  • Allow 7 full business days for the center to process their request.
  • Wait for an email notification from an advisor at the Center for International Studies who will:
    • Review the application packet
    • Request Cap-Gap in SEVIS
  • Return to the Center for International Studies to sign their new I-20 in blue ink.

Key points

  • An international student's work authorization automatically terminates upon rejection, denial or revocation of an H-1B petition. The student has a 60-day grace period to remain in the U.S.
  • Students are restricted to no more than 90 days of unemployment (Optional Practical Training) or 120 days (Optional Practical Training+STEM Extension) during the Cap-Gap extension.
  • Students may not travel outside the U.S. during a Cap-Gap period.  A student who elects to travel outside the U.S. during their Cap-Gap period must apply for an H-1B visa at a consular post abroad before returning.
  • 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 limit on unemployment during the initial post-completion Optional Practical Training continues during the Cap-Gap period.
  • Students benefiting from the Cap-Gap do not receive a new employment authorization document, only an amended I-20.

 

Connect With Us