H-1B Cap Gap Relief

Because corporate H-1B visas begin on October 1 and most students graduate in May or December, there is often a gap of time between the OPT end date and the H-1B start date. To remedy this, USCIS may provide a temporary extension of F-1 status and work authorization while the H-1B petition is being processed.

  • This benefit is offered only from April 1 to October 1 and only in conjunction with a corporate H-1B petition that is pending or approved with an October 1 start date.
  • The extension begins the day after the OPT EAD end date and ends on October 1.
  • You can request an I-20 and a status verification letter  that indicates this extension.
  • You remain in F-1 status until the H-1B start date.
  • If your H-1B petition is denied or withdrawn and your OPT has ended, your status ends 60 days from the date posted on your denial/withdrawal. Please notify the ISSO if this occurs.

Services to help prepare the H-1B application

Immigration Document Copy Request

The ISSO offers a courtesy service for UTD students and alumni who need copies of immigration documents that the ISSO has on file.

  • Submit the Immigration Document Copy Request through the iComet Portal
    1. Log into the iComet Portal using your NetID and password.
    2. Click on "F-1 Alumni" on the left side of the page.
    3. Click on "Immigration Document Copy Request."
    4. Fill out the eForm with your information. Remember to click "submit" at the bottom of the page.
  • See our current processing times.
  • Collect the documents or arrange to have them mailed. Due to security and privacy concerns, ISSO will not scan and email the documents

Remember, maintaining copies of all your immigration documents is your individual responsibility.

For more information, contact an international student advisor.

Services after filing of the H-1B application

H-1B Cap Gap Calculator

The ISSO has provided a H-1B Cap Gap Calculator for informational purposes to show the length for the H-1B Cap Gap Extension based on the status of an H-1B petition. Contact an ISSO Advisor or an immigration attorney to obtain advice with respect to your specific situation.

H-1B Cap Gap Extension I-20 and Verification Letter

The cap gap extension is managed by USCIS and automatically tied to your H-1B petition. If you would like an I-20 that documents the USCIS extension you can obtain one from the UT Dallas ISSO.

The ISSO will generate an I-20 that resembles your previous OPT I-20, with a paragraph on page two indicating the extension. The ISSO will send you an email when your I-20 is ready for pickup.

The ISSO also offers a Cap Gap Status Verification Letter that documents the whether you have an extension of your F-1 employment and/or work authorization in your SEVIS Record. If your SEVIS record lists your receipt number, that information will be indicated in the letter.

If you wish to receive a Cap Gap I-20 and/or Cap Gap Status Verification letter, please submit a Cap-Gap Extension Services Request through iComet.

After Change of Status to H-1B is Approved

After you receive your I-797 Approval Notice for H-1B status, please report this change to the ISSO. If you are currently on OPT or STEM OPT, please report this change through the OPT reporting procedures. Include a copy of your I-797 Approval Notice. If you are not on OPT, please submit a copy of the I-797 Approval Notice to [email protected]

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

My driver’s license is expiring the same date my OPT EAD expires, is my Cap Gap Extension I-20 enough to show that my F-1 status has been extended?

F-1’s whose status has been extended as a result of cap-gap provisions must also present the Form I-797, “Notice of Action,” indicating that the Change of Status application has been approved. USCIS has stated that you should wait 10 days after receiving proof of the I-797 before applying for the renewal of the driver’s license. If you have F-2 dependents, they will also need to take proof of the relationship, and proof of the primary F-1 immigration status. Please note that F-2 dependent driver’s license requests often need to be referred to the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) system to verify immigration status. This will result in a longer wait time for the renewal. For more information, please see the DMV factsheet.

May I travel outside the US during the cap gap extension period and return in F-1 status.

SEVP recommends that you do not travel outside the US during the cap gap extension, if possible, as USCIS will consider a change-of-status application abandoned if the applicant leaves the country while the application remains pending. If you must travel, you must have a valid EAD in order to return in F-1 status. Otherwise, please speak with an immigration attorney about re-entering in H-1B status.

Do the same limits on unemployment time apply to me during cap gap extension?

Yes. You are not granted additional unemployment time for the Cap Gap period. F-1 students in their initial 12 months of OPT may accrue up to 90 days of unemployment. F-1 students who are in their 24-Month STEM OPT period may accrue up to 150 days of unemployment. Accruing more than the allowed amount of unemployment time is a violation of your F-1 status.

Do I still need to report to ISSO during the cap gap extension period?

Yes. Your OPT reporting requirements remain the same until your new status begins. You should continue to maintain your F-1 status during the Cap Gap period by reporting any change of address, legal name change and changes in employment within 10 days. Students in a period of STEM OPT should continue to submit a validation report every sixth months.

My employer filed my H-1B application. How will I know if I have the cap gap extension?

You must remain in contact with the employer that filed the I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant on your behalf. Until USCIS issues receipt notices, only the employer will know when the application is properly filed or waitlisted. You may obtain evidence from your employer for either of these two events and ask the ISSO to request an I-20 documenting your extension. In the event that the information is not reflected in SEVIS, ISSO may request a data fix of your SEVIS record. The data fix is completed by the SEVIS Help Desk and may take several weeks.

ISSO says that SEVIS does not show that my work authorization and status have been extended. What does that mean?

If your H-1B application was receipted or approved, and your SEVIS record does not properly reflect this status, ISSO can request a data fix to correct your record. ISSO will need a copy of the receipt (Form I-797) to request the data fix. The data fix is completed by the SEVIS Help Desk and may take several weeks.