What is Cap Gap?


A Cap Gap extension is a DHS provision which bridges the gap between the end of a student’s F-1 status and the start of H-1B status. This provision allows the eligible student to remain in the US and, if applicable, extend existing OPT authorization.

If your employer files an H-1B as a change of status in a timely manner with a benefit start date of October 1 then you may be eligible for one of the following Cap Gap extension benefits

  1. If the employer filed your H-1B petition and it is received by USCIS prior to the OPT expiration date then you will qualify for an extension of your OPT authorization.
  2. If the employer filed your H-1B petition and it is received by USCIS after your post-completion OPT expires but within the 60 day grace period following OPT then your F-1 status and permission to remain in the US are extended but you are not eligible to work.

Please note that H-1B petitions filed via consular processing do not qualify for Cap Gap extension benefits. Only petitions filed as change of status are eligible. Students must still be maintaining their status on the date the potential H-1B employer files the petition.

Things to Consider:

  • The Cap Gap extension benefit is not available to the H-1B petition filed by a cap-exempt employer.
  • Students on cap-gap extensions are required to report to the International Student Office any change of name or address, or any interruption of employment within 
    • Name changes should be submitted to ISO by clicking New Support Ticket and submitting a copy of a Passport with your new name
    • Address changes should be submitted through MyHU
  • The 90-day limitation on unemployment during the initial post-completion OPT authorization continues during the cap-gap extension.
  • During post-completion OPT, F-1 status is dependent upon employment.
  • Students on cap-gap extension should not travel outside the U.S. since your OPT EAD has expired.
    Remember to submit a validation report to the International Student Office every six months
    Submit OPT Validation Reports.
  • When you are ready to submit your request, please login to the Terra Dotta System and navigate to the Request Center to find the STEM OPT Reporting request. We recommend that students access Terra Dotta through a desktop/laptop device, as mobile compatibility is limited. 

STEM degree holders granted a 17-month OPT extension may not accrue an aggregate of more than 120 days of unemployment during the total 36-month OPT period.