Employment: OPT H-1B Cap Gap Extension

H-1B Cap Gap Extension

The H-1B cap is the government’s limit on the number of individuals who may be granted H-1B (Specialty Occupation) status during each fiscal year. The fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30. The cap is currently set at 65,000 (+20,000 for US higher degree holders). The earliest day that your employer can file the cap-subject H-1B petition is April 1 (6 months before the start date of October 1). Individuals whose employers are exempt from the H-1B “cap” are not subject to this limit- e.g. universities and colleges.

What is the OPT Cap Gap Extension?

The H-1B “Cap-Gap” occurs when your F-1 status or OPT work authorization expires before you can begin your H-1B status on October 1. For example, if your OPT ends May 30, but your H-1B will begin October 1, there would be a gap in work authorization between May 30 and October 1, to so-called cap gap.

If you have a cap gap, but your employer has filed your cap-subject H-1B petition while you are on active OPT status, or during your 60 day grace period, then your legal stay may be extended until September 30.

Please note:

  • Your H-1B must have been filed on the basis of change of status, not consular processing.
  • If you are on active OPT as of the H-1B petition receipt date, your OPT EAD is automatically extended and you may continue to work.
  • If you are in your 60 day grace period as of the H-1B petition receipt date, your legal stay is extended, but you will not have work authorization until your H-1B becomes effective.
  • If your H-1B petition is rejected or denied, and your OPT EAD has already expired, you will begin your 60-day grace period. You must stop working.
  • Your EAD extension based on a pending petition only lasts through September 30. If your H-1B is still pending as of October 1, you must stop working until the H-1B is approved and becomes effective.

For further information, please review the USCIS webpage on the Extension of Post Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) and F-1 Status for Eligible Students under the H-1B Cap-Gap Regulations.

 Requesting a new Form I-20

If you wish to document your cap-gap extension, you may request an updated Form I-20 from ISSS. Please allow at least two weeks for processing.

Send an email to ISSS with the subject line “Cap Gap I-20 Request”, which includes the following document copies:

1) A copy of your H-1B approval notice, with new I-94 attached

2) A copy of your I-797 receipt notice, and page 2 of the filed I-129 petition (black out the SSN before sending).

ISSS will contact you when the document is ready for pick-up or mailing.