F-1 Cap Gap Extension
Current F-1 regulations allow certain students with pending or approved H-1B petitions to remain in F-1 status during the period of time when an F-1 student’s status and work authorization would otherwise expire through the start date of their approved H-1B employment period. This is referred to as filling the “cap-gap,” meaning the regulations provide a way of filling the “gap” between the end of F-1 status and the beginning of H-1B status that might otherwise occur if F-1 status is not extended for qualifying students.
The cap gap extension benefit will only be available to students whose H-1B petitions are filed as “change of status” in the required filing periods set by USCIS.
There are Two Types of Cap Gap Extension:
- An extension of OPT employment authorization, if USCIS receives your H-1B petition before the expiration of your approved OPT Post-Completion or STEM period.
- An extension of duration of status (D/S), if USCIS receives your H-1B petition before the expiration of your grace period (after the completion of your degree program or practical training)
Cap Gap Extension Timeframe:
The length of your cap gap extension will depend on the status of your H-1B petition. The chart below outlines the length of your cap gap period.
|Status of H-1B Petition||Cap Gap End Date|
|Canceled||SEVIS will revert to original program end date/OPT end date|
|Rejected||F-1 status shortened to date of rejection letter from USCIS|
How to Apply for a Cap Gap Extension I-20:
If your H-1B petition has been filed by your employer but not receipted and your OPT expires before June 1 you are eligible for a preliminary cap-gap extension until June 1st. Please upload copies of the following items here to start your request for cap gap extension. Once your petition is receipted, request an automatic cap-gap extension I-20 by following the steps above.
- Student Visa Document Request form-- Select: Cap Gap Extension
- Your Name and Contact Information (address, phone, email)
- Copy of EAD Card
- Copy of I-797A Receipt Notice or Approval Notice; or; Proof of H-1B Application Filing
You may upload these items here as a .pdf attachment.
Pick-Up Your OPT Cap Gap I-20:
Processing time is 7 business days (day one starts the day after you submit your complete application), and you can pick up your I-20 in these ways:
- Come to the International Center on the 7th business day and present a valid form of identification (e.g. UCI Student ID).
- Pay for mailing using eShipGlobal. If you chose this option please be sure to include your eShipGlobal order number in your email to our office.
- Email an authorization form to firstname.lastname@example.org and have a friend/family member come to the International Center with their photo ID to pick up your document.