H-1B Cap Gap Extension

The cap gap extension allows students to legally remain in the U.S. and also have any applicable OPT authorization extended until the H-1B petition adjudication process has been completed.

What is the H-1B "cap gap"?

H-1B cap-subject petitions can be filed up to 180 days before the government fiscal year begins on October 1. Cap-subject H-1B petitions can be filed as early as April 1 for an H-1B employment start date of October 1. Special circumstances arise when an F-1 student's program or OPT authorization will end after April 1 but before October 1, when his/her H-1B status takes effect. This period of time is known as the "cap gap."

Who qualifies for a Cap Gap Extension?

Beneficiaries of cap-subject H-1B petitions that are timely filed on behalf of an eligible F-1 student, who request a change of status to H-1B to start on October 1. "Timely filed" means that the H-1B petition (indicating change of status rather than consular processing) was filed when the F-1 student was still in status (including any period of time during the program of study, any authorized periods of post-completion OPT, and the 60-day grace period). The work authorization will only be extended if the student's OPT was still in effect when the H-1B petition was filed. Only the F-1 status is extended (NOT the work authorization) if the student was still enrolled in their program of study or in their grace period. The cap gap extension ends if the H-1B petition is rejected, denied, revoked.

How do I apply for a Cap Gap Extension?

A cap gap extension is automatic. If you would like to obtain proof of this extension, you may request a Cap Gap Extension I-20 from ISSS by completing the following steps:

  1. Send an email to istudent@ucsc.edu. Please include “Cap-Gap Extension” in the subject line.
  2. Indicate the following in the email:
    • SEVIS Number
    • Last Name, First name
    • Date of Birth
    • EAD Start and End Date, if applicable
    • H-1B Petition Receipt Number
  3. Attach a clear, legible scanned copy of:
    • Current EAD card, if applicable
    • Your H-1B Receipt Notice and/or H-1B I-797B Approval Notice

How long will the Cap Gap Extension I-20 process take?

We will submit the cap gap I-20 request to SEVIS within 3 business days of receiving a student’s email and COMPLETE documentation. Currently there is no processing timeline given by SEVIS regarding the process of Cap Gap I-20s. Once the I-20 is processed by SEVIS, ISSS will contact the student that the I-20 is available.

What do I do if my OPT expires and my Cap Gap Extension I-20 is still pending with SEVIS?

A cap gap extension is automatic. You can still remain in the U.S. and/or continue to work while the I-20 request is pending.