H-1B Cap Gap Extension of OPT
The H-1B work visa is an employer sponsored petition submitted by the employer on your behalf. To begin the process of applying for H-1B and becoming eligible for a possible extension of OPT, you must speak to your employer.
The H-1B Cap is the congressionally-mandated limit on the number of individuals who may be granted initial H-1B status during each fiscal year. The cap is currently set at 65,000 for all who have a Bachelor’s or higher degree, and an additional 20,000 for those with a Master’s degree or higher. Employees who will work at institutions of higher education or a related or affiliated nonprofit entities, or at nonprofit research organizations or governmental research organizations, are cap exempt and can continue to hire new employees on H-1B year-round.
The H-1B Fiscal Year for Cap-Subject employers runs from October 1st to September 30th each year. If you are graduating in the Spring semester with a standard 12 months of post-completion OPT, you will find that your work authorization will expire in June or July one year after graduation, leaving a gap in your work authorization until October 1st when your H-1B status will begin.
Example: Standard 12-months of Post-Completion OPT
The Cap Gap Extension of OPT through September 30th of the current year is granted if an H-1B petition has been filed by a Cap-Subject employer before the current period of OPT expires. The first day to file for H-1B is April 1st.
H-1B must be filed between April 1st and before the expiration of your OPT.
Example: 9 months of Post-Completion OPT after 3-month Summer Internship
*Start date no earlier than July 2nd or 3rd; Expiration date on April 2nd or 3rd
If you have less than 12 months of post-completion OPT remaining after using pre-completion OPT, you will need to be sure that your post-completion OPT is still valid on April 1st or beyond to be eligible for the Cap Gap Extension. We recommend counting backwards from April 1st to determine your OPT start date.
If your OPT expires, but you are in a valid 60-day grace period on April 1st, your employer can still file an H-1B petition on your behalf and you can legally stay in the U.S. (extension of duration of status) until you receive official notification about the status of your case from USCIS, but you are not eligible to work during this period.
While On Cap Gap Extension
Work authorization on Cap Gap is valid until September 30th unless the H-1B petition is denied, withdrawn, or revoked.
Evidence of work authorization for the extended period is reflected on a new I-20. There will be no new EAD card issued for Cap Gap Extension. OISS will be able to provide you with an updated I-20 if you notify us and provide evidence of a timely filed H-1B petition (receipt or approval notice from USCIS or courier service delivery confirmation with your name on it) by emailing your OISS adviser with the subject “Cap Gap I-20.”
Travel is NOT advised during the Cap Gap period.