Cap Gap Extensions

A cap-gap extension automatically extends an eligible F-1 student’s status to bridge the gap between the end of OPT (F-1 status) and start of H-1B status (effective October 1), thereby allowing the student to remain in the US and continue working during the “gap.” The cap-gap extension is available to students who, as of April 1st, were either on approved OPT or in their 60-day grace period and have a pending or approved change-of-status to H-1B petition with the USCIS. 

This cap-gap extension will produce one of two outcomes, depending on your individual situation:

  • Extension of your OPT work authorization to September 30th. This happens if your approved OPT end date (on your EAD card) is April 1st or later and your employer filed an H1B petition prior to your OPT end date. 

 OR

  • Extension of your F-1 “duration of status.”  If your OPT expired before April 1st and your employer filed an H1B petition during your 60-day grace period, you are allowed to remain in the US if you otherwise maintain your F-1 status, but you are not authorized to work until the H-1B petition is approved and goes into effect October 1.

Who is eligible for the extension?

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 his or her F-1 status.  To qualify for the extension, the student must be the beneficiary of an H-1B petition that:

  1. Is subject to the H1B cap (petitions filed by "cap exempt" employers do not qualify because the cap gap is not required, the H-1B can begin any day of the year so it can begin the day after your OPT expires)
  2. Has been timely filed (within the acceptance period)
  3. Requests an employment start date of October 1
  4. Requests a change of status (rather than consular processing)

How do I obtain a Cap-Gap I-20?

There is no application process for the cap-gap extension.  If your H1B petition has been received or approved your SEVIS record should automatically reflect the cap gap extension and your work authorization or F-1 will be extended to September 30th.  It is our experience that it may take 2-3 weeks after your H-1B is receipted for your SEVIS record to be updated with the cap gap extension.

Please note that your work authorization is automatically extended as long as a viable H1B application is filed for you BEFORE the end date of your current F1 OPT.  Your employer may require a cap gap I-20 to extend the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form.

Therefore, two to three weeks after you or your employer have received the H1B receipt notice or approval notice, you may contact the Slutzker Center by email at lescis@syr.edu to request a cap gap I-20:

Write “CAP GAP extension I-20" in the subject line of your email.

In the body of the email include:

  • Last Name, First Name
  • SU ID number
  • SEVIS ID Number (the N00 number on your I-20): 
  • H1B receipt number
  • The address to which you want your new I-20 sent by regular mail OR
  • Let us know that you have arranged for express mailing and do so here.

If you or your employer have not received a receipt notice for an H-1B from USCIS, then your SEVIS record is not likely to have the cap gap applied to it and we will not be able to produce an I-20 with the cap gap.    

How does my employer update the I-9 with the cap gap extension of OPT?

Your employer should consult page 21 of the I-9 Handbook for Employers.

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

If the 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.

For additional information on the Cap Gap Extension please see here.