Cap Gap Extension

The automatic cap-gap extension through September 30th is available to F-1 students who are the beneficiaries of a timely filed H-1B application and their OPT or grace period has expired before October 1st of the current year.

The cap-gap extension is automatically authorized in SEVIS through September 30th. You will not receive a new EAD for the additional time. You do not need a new I-20 in order to continue working and/or remain in the U.S., but it will serve as proof of the extension. 

How to request a new I-20 reflecting the cap-gap extension?

Email with a copy of the Form I-797, Notice of Action. You should get this receipt from your employer.

Types of extensions:

Extension of F-1 status and work authorization: If you are the beneficiary of an H-1B application that was filed on or after April 1st and is subject to the H-1B annual cap and your EAD expired after April 1st, you can remain in the U.S. and continue to work on OPT until September 30th.  

Extension of F-1 status but cannot continue working until H-1B becomes effective: If your EAD expired before April 1st and you are the beneficiary of an H-1B application that was filed during your 60 day grace period following the end of your OPT, and is subject to the H-1B annual cap; you can remain in the U.S. but cannot continue working until your H-1B is approved and effective.

Read more on the Study in the States website.

Traveling during cap-gap extension period:

Do not travel outside the U.S. before your H1B and change of status request is approved. If you travel outside the U.S. while it is still pending, USCIS will consider that you abandoned your petition.

You may generally travel abroad and seek readmission to the United States in F-1 status during a Cap-Gap period if:

  • Your H-1B petition and request for change of status has been approved by USCIS.
  • You are reentering before your H-1B employment begins (before October 1). If you try to enter after October 1st, you will need an H-1B visa stamp in your passport.
  • You are otherwise admissible and have all proper documentation including a valid form I-20 with travel signature, unexpired passport and valid F-1 visa, letter of employment, and I-797 Notice of Action as proof that your H1B is still pending.

Remember that it is ultimately up to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to determine if you can reenter. OGI recommends consulting with the attorney retained by your employer before traveling.