H-1B Cap-Gap: What Employers Need to Know

HIGHLIGHTS

While the H-1B lottery season is over, if you sponsored an H-1B petition for a student with an F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) status, there are a few things you should know about the “Cap-Gap.”

What’s the Cap-Gap?
When an HR professional sponsors an F-1 OPT holder and the H-1B application is selected for processing and subsequently approved, the earliest date the employment period can begin is October 1. But the F-1 OPT status often expires before then, leaving the student without a valid work visa. The period between the F-1 OPT expiration date and the start of the H-1B approval period is called the Cap-Gap.

To provide a solution to this problem, USCIS has implemented the Cap-Gap extension, which lengthens students’ F-1 OPT status until their H-1B work authorization officially begins.

Who’s eligible for the Cap-Gap Extension?
F-1 OPT students may be eligible for the extension if their H-1B Change of Status petition was filed in a timely manner.

How do I apply?
If the student’s H-1B petition is selected for processing and approved by USCIS, the F-1 extension will automatically continue through September 30. The student should speak to their school’s International Student Advisor to ensure the appropriate paperwork is filed.

If you have questions regarding the Cap-Gap, feel free to contact us and speak to an immigration specialist.