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- If your H-1B petition is denied or withdrawn and your OPT has ended, your status ends 60 days from the date posted on your denial/withdrawal.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 by email to email@example.com or in person to request the document copies
- Processing time is 3 business days
- 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.
Journey to H-1B Presentation
The ISSO created a presentation to help you understand basic transitional issues for students currently in F-1 status seeking to change to H-1B.
Services after filing of the H-1B application
H-1B Cap Gap Calculator
H-1B Cap Extension I-20
The gap relief extension of status and, possibly work authorization, 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. Submit the following to the ISSO:
- Cap Gap Extension Services Request Form and supporting documents
- Processing time is three business days.
The ISSO will generate an I-20 that resembles your previous OPT I-20, with a paragraph on page three indicating the extension. The ISSO will send you an email when your I-20 is ready for pickup.
Cap Gap Status Verification Letter documenting Cap Gap Extension
The ISSO 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.
Submit the following to the ISSO:
- Complete Cap Gap Extension Services Request Form.
- Processing time is three business days.
You do not need to submit any supplemental information to request this letter. The ISSO will send you an email when the I-20 is ready for pick up or mailing.
ISSO advisors are available by email, phone and walk in to help you with your questions regarding cap-gap extension, and how to maintain your F-1 status while pending a change of status to H-1B.
ISSO Services after Change of Status to H-1B
In early October, ISSO will verify that your SEVIS F-1 status has correctly completed. Please submit your I-797 Approval prior to October so that we assist you with this process.
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 will not be able to return in F-1 status. 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. No additional unemployment time is granted for this time; F-1 ‘s in their initial 12 months of OPT may accrue up to 90 days of unemployment, and F-1’s who are in their 17 Month STEM OPT period may accrue up to 120 days of unemployment before violating their status.
Do I still need to report to ISSO during the cap gap extension period?
Yes. As with all students on post-completion OPT, you must report any change of address, legal name change and interruptions of employment within 10 days.
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.