Get more information on the USCIS H-1B season
If you are a student on Post-Completion OPT and your employer is filing for your H-1B work visa this year, you may be eligible 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 and authorized stay in the U.S. from the date your current EAD expires to September 30 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 cap-gap work authorization, but have the ability to file for a STEM Extension of your OPT, ISSO recommends you consult an immigration attorney as to whether applying for your STEM Extension of OPT is necessary.
Theoretically, a student can apply for a STEM Extension during the cap-gap period, even after the expiry of their OPT. This is risky, however, and may lead to a denial.
*Important to note: check with H-1B attorney on how they are filing your H-1B Petition:
H-1B Change of Status vs. Consular Processing
There are two methods of filing your H-1B petition:
*The second option indicates that your status is not automatically changed to H-1B; 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 any earlier 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.
How to receive the Cap Gap I-20:
We cannot issue you a cap-gap I-20 until such time that you receive your Form I-797C Receipt Notice (indicating that your H-1B petition has been receipted) AND your SEVIS record accurately reflects that your H-1B petition has been accepted to the H-1B cap. Typically, students’ SEVIS records will note whether they have been accepted or not between late-April and early-May. Please do not check-in with ISSO about the status of your H, or submit the Cap-Gap I-20 Request eform, prior to this as it is unlikely that your SEVIS record will reflect your acceptance to the cap. The ISSO will not review students' SEVIS records to confirm acceptance to the H-1B cap; students MUST submit the Cap-Gap I-20 Request eForm once they have received their H-1B Receipt Notice
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 the General H-1B Information and Updates here: