H-1B Cap Gap

In some cases, an F-1 Student’s status and employment authorization expire before the H-1B visa can be issued on Oct. 1st of the fiscal year. This creates a gap between the expiration of the F-1 status and the beginning of the H-1B visa status. Qualifying F-1 students with a gap before the start of their H-1B visa are allowed to remain in F-1 status under the “H-1B Cap-Gap Extension.” See if you qualify for the H-1B Cap-Gap extension.

What is a Cap-Gap extension?

The time period between the end of the F-1 visa  and the start of the H-1B visa is what is referred to as the “cap-gap.”  Under the cap-gap extension, qualifying F-1 students with a pending or approved cap-subject H-1B petition can remain in F-1 status during the period between the expiration of their status and the commencement of their H-1B employment. Qualifying F-1 students who are the beneficiaries of an H-1B Cap subject petition, that file a timely request for a change of status may have their F-1 status and any current employment authorization extended until Oct. 1st of the fiscal year.

Who qualifies for a Cap-Gap extension?

F-1 beneficiaries of timely filed cap-subject H-1B petition requesting a change of status to H-1B on Oct. 1 of the fiscal year qualify for a cap-gap extension. To be considered timely filed, the H-1B petition for a change of status must be filed during the H-1B filing period, and while the student’s F-1 status was still in effect, including the 60-day departure preparation period, or “grace period.”

When does the Cap-Gap period begin?

The cap-gap period begins when your F-1 status and employment authorization expires and ends on Oct. 1st of the fiscal year. If the H-1B petition is approved, the cap-gap extension of status will continue through Sept. 30. The cap-gap extension of status will automatically terminate if the underlying H-1B petition is denied, withdrawn, revoked, or rejected, or if the change of status request is denied or withdrawn. You will have the standard 60-day grace period from the date the extension of status terminated until the end date of your program, whichever is later, to depart the United States.

Can I work during the Cap-Gap period?

If you meet the qualifications for a cap-gap extension, you will receive an extension of both your F-1 status and any related employment authorization until Oct. 1st of the fiscal year allowing you to work during the ca-gap period. F-1 students who have entered the 60-day grace period are NOT authorized to work. If an H 1B cap-subject petition is properly filed for a student who has entered the 60-day grace period, the student will receive the automatic extension of his or her F-1 status, but will NOT be authorized to work since the student was not authorized to work at the time H-1B petition was filed.

Can I travel during the Cap-Gap period?

If you are an F-1 student that is the beneficiary of the H-1B lottery, you may travel during the cap-gap period if:

  • Your H-1B petition and request for a change of status have been approved;
  • You reenter the United States before your H-1B employment begins; AND
  • You are otherwise admissible.

If you travel outside the United States while the H-1B petition and the change of status request remain pending, the request for change of status will be considered abandoned and will be DENIED. Even if you meet the above requirements, admission to the United States after traveling abroad is at the discretion of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

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