UCI International Center

F-1 Cap Gap Extension

Section 1

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.

December 6, 2019: USCIS Announces Implementation of H-1B Electronic Registration Process for Fiscal Year 2021 Cap Season

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 PetitionCap Gap End Date
Filed June 1
Pending September 30 
Approved September 30 
Canceled SEVIS will revert to original program end date/OPT end date

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 internationalcenter@uci.edu and have a friend/family member come to the International Center with their photo ID to pick up your document.