If you are a student on Post-Completion OPT and your employer is filing for your H-1B work visa this year, you may need to obtain a cap-gap I-20 from the International Students & Scholars Office (ISSO).
If your H-1B visa petition is selected as one of the 85,000 available H-1B visas AND your current Post-Completion OPT or STEM OPT will expire before October 1, you are eligible to receive a cap-gap I-20 from the ISSO. The cap-gap I-20 will effectively extend your F-1 work authorization from the date your current EAD expires to September 30th to allow you to maintain work authorization in the U.S. while you wait for your change of status to H-1B on October 1.
If you are eligible for a STEM extension of your OPT, ISSO advises that you apply EVEN IF you are eligible for cap-gap. Doing so ensures that you will maintain status at least through your eventually approved STEM OPT period should your H petition be denied or withdrawn before October 1.
*Important to note: check with H-1B attorney on how they’re completing form I-129 on below
There are two methods of filing your H-1B petition:
*The second option indicates that your status is not automatically changed to H-1B, and in order to activate your H-1B status you would need to apply for the H-1B visa stamp at a U.S. consular post (generally in your home country) and then reenter the U.S. using that H-1B visa stamp. Once your H-1B petition is approved, you may apply for an H-1B visa at a U.S. consular post up to 90 days prior to the start date of your H-1B petition. However, you may not enter the U.S. in H-1B status more than 10 days prior to the start date of your H-1B petition. You should contact ISSO if you and your attorney requested option #2 since SEVIS most likely issued you automatic cap gap status at the time they approved the H-1B petition. This means whether or not you request the Cap Gap I-20 from our office, your EAD status will automatically terminate on October 1.
A student with a cap-gap I-20 can travel abroad and seek reentry as an F-1 student so long as:
*Whenever traveling on cap-gap ALWAYS consult your immigration attorney to confirm that travel is approved and that you have all necessary materials to depart and reenter the U.S. as planned.
Read this General H-1B Information and Updates (pdf).
You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view any pdf files. It can be download for free from the Adobe website.