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OPT Cap Gap Extension​

H-1B is a work visa that is sponsored by an employer. The H-1B cap is the limit on the number of H-1Bs allowed each fiscal year. The cap does not apply to all H-1B petitions. You must discuss with your employer whether your H-1B petition is subject to the cap.  Please review additional information about the H-1B electronic registration process here.

The period in-between the time that an F-1 student’s status and work authorization expires and  the start date of their approved H-1B employment period is known as cap-gap.

A “Cap Gap” extension is for students with a pending or approved cap-subject H-1B petition with a change of status option. Students whose H-1B applications are filed under Consular Processing may not take advantage of this cap-gap extension.

The cap gap employment benefit is triggered only if USCIS receives a qualifying H-1B application before the expiration of approved standard 12-month Optional Practical Training or 24-month STEM extension Optional Practical Training.

There is no cap-gap employment benefit if the H-1B is filed before the Optional Practical Training period begins or after this period ends. If USCIS receives a qualifying H-1B petition before the student’s OPT is approved or after it ends but while the student is on the 60-day grace period, only a cap-gap extension of D/S will be triggered but not cap-gap extension of employment authorization.

How to Request a new I-20 with Cap Gap notation

Log on to your iTerp account and click F-1 Student Services > Cap Gap OPT request. You will be asked to submit the following documentation:

  • EAD card
  • H-1B I-797 Notice of Action Notice or I-797 Approval Notice​

As the Cap-Gap period comes to an end, what reporting requirements need to be completed?

In order to close out your F-1 immigration status, we would recommend taking the following steps on before September 30 (you may lose your access to the iTerp system shortly after October 1, so it is recommended to do this before this date):

  • ALL STUDENTS ON OPT OR STEM EXTENSION: Report the end date of your employment. Please log on to iTerp and in the “OPT/STEM Services” menu, report the end date of your OPT employment using the “OPT: Update Existing Employer Information” form.
  • ALL STUDENTS ON STEM EXTENSION: Upload your I-983 with final evaluation. Please log on to iTerp and in the “OPT/STEM Services” menu, fill out the “STEM: I-983 Final Evaluation” form. Upload your I-983 with the final evaluation completed. Please make sure you upload a document that includes sections 1, 2, 3 and has the final evaluation completed and signed by your employer. 
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