Cap-Gap Extension for OPT Students

At the end of the OPT authorization, you have a 60-day grace period to remain in the United States and prepare for departure, to begin a new program of study, or to submit an application for a change of status, unless your employer has submitted an H-1B petition.

The cap-gap extension applies to all F-1 students on OPT whose non-college or university employers filed a timely H-1B petition for the following fiscal year, regardless of your field of study.

If your employer files a timely H-1B petition (requesting a change of status within the United States and an employment start date of October 1 of the following fiscal year) before your current OPT authorization expires, you are permitted to continue working and may remain legally in the United States in F-1 status until the H-1B petition is approved, rejected, denied, or revoked. The allowance of extra time while the petition is being reviewed is known as "cap-gap authorization."

This permission to remain in the United States in F-1 status and continue working under OPT in this particular situation is automatic. There is no new application for an EAD.

If the H-1B petition is approved, your immigration status change will occur on October 1. If the H-1B petition is rejected, denied, or revoked, your OPT cap-gap authorization will end 10 days after its rejection, and you will have a 60-day grace period to depart the country, change status, or begin a new program (at the same school or by transferring to a new school).

The cap-gap work authorization continuation only applies in cases where the H-1B petition is filed before the EAD expires. If the EAD expires before the H-1B petition can be filed, but you are still within the 60-day grace period, you may remain in the United States in F-1 status until a decision on the H-1B petition is reached, but may not be employed.

F-2 dependents (spouses and unmarried minor children) are eligible to remain in F-2 status during this time as well.

If your employer's attorney, your local BMV, or a similar party requests that you provide an updated I-20 that reflects your cap-gap OPT, please email us at to request the I-20.

Is Your Employer Interested In Sponsoring You for an H-1B but Doesn't Know Where to Start?

IUPUI has a program called Immigration Bridge. Immigration Bridge is specifically designed for smaller employers who may not know how to sponsor international workers. You can find more information about this program on our website, here.