H-1B Cap Gap Extension

The cap gap extension allows students to legally remain in the U.S. and also have any applicable OPT authorization extended until the H-1B petition adjudication process has been completed.

What is the H-1B “cap gap”?

H-1B cap-subject petitions can be filed up to 180 days before the government fiscal year begins on October 1. Cap-subject H-1B petitions can be filed as early as April 1 for an H-1B employment start date of October 1. Special circumstances arise when an F-1 student’s program or OPT authorization will end after April 1 but before October 1, when his/her H-1B status takes effect. This period of time is known as the “cap gap.”


Beneficiaries of cap-subject H-1B petitions that are timely filed on behalf of an eligible F-1 student, who request a change of status to H-1B to start on October 1. “Timely filed” means that the H-1B petition (indicating change of status rather than consular processing) was filed when the F-1 student was still in status (including any period of time during the program of study, any authorized periods of post-completion OPT, and the 60-day grace period). The work authorization will only be extended if the student’s OPT was still in effect when the H-1B petition was filed. Only the F-1 status is extended (NOT the work authorization) if the student was still enrolled in their program of study or in their grace period. The cap gap extension ends if the H-1B petition is rejected, denied, or revoked.

How do I apply for a Cap Gap Extension?

A cap gap extension is automatic, nothing additional needs to be done.

What if my OPT expires and my Cap Gap Extension I-20 is still pending with SEVIS?

A cap gap extension is automatic. You can still remain in the U.S. and/or continue to work.

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Last modified: Jun 09, 2023