What is the cap gap?

H-1B is a work visa that is sponsored by an employer. Students commonly transition from Optional Practical Training authorization, part of F-1 status, to H-1B status. There are a limited number of H-1Bs available each fiscal year, for most employers, and this limit is often called the “H-1B cap.” New H-1Bs become effective each October 1, but the application period for most employers begins six months earlier, April 1. The cap gap occurs when a student’s F-1 status and/or Optional Practical Training expire before their approved H-1B begins October 1.

Cap gap extension eligibility

Please be aware the responsibility of the Office of Global Services regarding H-1B petitions is minimal. The Office of Global Services is able to issue a cap gap extension I-20 to students in the following cases:

If your H-1B application was properly filed but no response has been received from the USA Citizenship and Immigration Services:

  • If your Employment Authorization Document card expires before June 1, the Office of Global Service can extend your Optional Practical Training authorization in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) until June 1. Once your H-1B application is accepted by USA Citizenship and Immigration Services and you receive a receipt, you can submit a new cap gap I-20 Request for an Optional Practical Training authorization extension through September 30
  • If your Employment Authorization Document does not expire before June 1, your cap gap extension will not be available in SEVIS until your application has been accepted and receipted by the USA Citizenship and Immigration Services. (Please fill out the e-form when you have received a receipt from the USA Citizenship and Immigration Services)

If your H-1B application was selected for wait-listing:

  • If your Employment Authorization Document expires before July 28, the Office of Global Service can extend your Optional Practical Training authorization through July 28. Once your H-1B application is accepted by the USA Citizenship and Immigration Services and you receive a receipt, please refill out the e-form to receive an I-20 with Optional Practical Training authorization extension through September 30

If your H-1B application was approved or selected for processing (receipted):

  • If your Employment Authorization Document expires between April 1 and September 30, the Office of Global Services can issue a cap gap I-20 with Optional Practical Training extension through September 30. (Please fill out the e-form to receive an I-20 with Optional Practical Training authorization extension)
  • If your H-1B application was denied, your cap gap extension ends 10 days after the date of denial

Please allow 10 business days for processing. You will receive an email when your I-20 is available for pick-up.

How to apply for a cap gap I-20

Visit Cap Gap I-20 Request.

Travel outside the USA

A valid Employment Authorization Document card is one of the documents requested for re-entry when a student returns from a trip abroad. If you are on a cap gap extension of Optional Practical Training and no longer have a valid Employment Authorization Document, travel outside the USA is risky. Therefore, travel abroad is NOT recommended during an H-1B cap gap extension period.

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