The H-1B Visa and the Cap Gap Extension
May 27, 2015
Are you an F-1 student who was granted a change of status to H-1B? If so, it is important that you know about the cap gap and the cap gap extension, as it can affect your legal status in the United States.
The cap gap refers to the period between the end of your F-1 status and the beginning of your H-1B status, which does not begin until Oct. 1. Many F-1 students complete their program of study or post completion optional practical training (OPT) in mid-spring or early summer. Normally, after their completion of study, F-1 students have 60 days after this to take steps to maintain legal status or depart the United States. This is where the cap gap extension becomes relevant.
The extension allows approved F-1 students to remain in the United States between the period their F-1 status would normally expire and the start date of their H-1B employment (Oct. 1).
You should always contact your designated school official (DSO) about whether you qualify for a cap gap extension of your F-1 status and if applicable, your OPT. If you do, then you should contact your DSO to receive an updated Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” showing your eligibility to stay in the United States and/or work through Sept. 30. Additionally, you should maintain regular contact with your potential employer to receive updates on the status of your H-1B petition.
To learn more about the cap gap and to find out if you are eligible for an extension of your F-1 status, visit the Study in the States Cap Gap page.