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H-1B Cap-Gap Extension

For students on OPT who have been approved for an H-1B with a start date of October 1 of the upcoming fiscal year, their work authorization and F-1 status are automatically extended to September 30. This would apply to all students on OPT, not just STEM students.

The extension of duration of status and work authorization would automatically terminate upon the rejection, denial, or revocation of the H-1B petition filed on the student's behalf. For example, if a student has OPT that is valid from June 2, 2020 to June 2, 2021, and her employer successfully obtains an H-1B for her to begin October 1, 2021, then with this provision she can remain in the U.S. and continue working until October 1, 2021 when her status changes to H-1B.


To be eligible for an H-1B Cap-Gap Extension:

  • The student must be in a period of post-completion OPT when the employer files the petition with USCIS (Immigration) to change the student’s status to H-1B.
  • The employer must request a start date of October 1.
  • USCIS (immigration) must receipt the petition (i.e., accept it for adjudication).
  • The student will not get a new EAD (OPT) card but our office can issue an updated I-20 that evidences the extension of employment authorization.
  • If by chance, the H-1B change of status petition is denied, the student will have a 60 day grace period to depart the U.S. (unless it is denied due to a status violation).

See the USCIS website for more information.

IMPORTANT: If you travel abroad during the H-1B Cap Gap period, you cannot reenter in F-1 status (you must stay abroad until you are eligible to reenter in H-1B status). If you have an H-1B or greencard pending, consult your attorney about travel.

Applying for H-1B Cap-Gap Extension I-20

The H-1B Cap Gap-Extension is noted directly on page 2 of a new I-20. There is no fee for the cap-gap extension.

Step 1: Confirm with your employer that they have filed your H-1B. Even if you received an H-1B slot in the lottery, you won't be eligible for the OPT cap gap extension until your H-1B has been filed.

Step 2: Wait at least 2 weeks after your employer has filed your H-1B. This will give USCIS time to enter your information into their systems. It may take longer than 2 weeks - it depends on how quickly USCIS is working. You can check to see if your OPT end date was changed to September 30 in the SEVP Portal. If it has been changed to September 30, your record has been updated.

Step 3: Submit the I-20 or DS-2019 Replacement form in iStart. When selecting a reason for replacement, please select "Other" and in the comment box write "H-1B cap gap."

Step 4: The Reves Center will then send your updated I-20 to you. Your OPT will be automatically updated on page 2 of your I-20.

Sometimes, the H-1B cap gap OPT extension doesn't automatically update. If this happens, please contact the Reves Center immigration staff, and we can request that Immigration correct your record. To get your record fixed, your company must have received a receipt notice from USCIS (Immigration) for the H-1B petition. The Reves Center will need a copy of this receipt notice before we can fix your record.

If your OPT is originally scheduled to end before June 1, we may be able to extend your OPT to June 1 without the receipt notice. Contact us for details.