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Travel, H-1B and Cap Gap I-20
Students cannot travel outside the U.S. unless the EAD card (OPT card) is valid while on the Cap Gap extension. However, the student may choose to leave the U.S. and obtain an H-1B visa to return to the U.S. and begin employment as an H-1B. The student will not be able to enter the U.S. except 10 days prior to the October 1 start date.
Cap Gap Extension for F-1 Students who are the subject of an H-1B Petition
Effective April 8, 2008, "duration of status" and any post-completion OPT work authorization will be automatically extended for an F-1 student who is the beneficiary of a timely-filed H-1B petition requesting change of status and an employment start date of October 1. The extension of duration of status and OPT work authorization automatically terminates upon the rejection, denial, and revocation of the H-1 petition filed on the student's behalf.
The cap gap extension starts when the student's current period of F-1 status ends, regardless of whether the student was on OPT. However, if the student was not on OPT, the extension of status starts on the day after the student's initial grace period expires.
To qualify for the H-1B cap-gap extension the student must be a beneficiary of an H-1B petition that has been timely filed; that requests an employment start date of October 1; and requests a change of status. The student must not have violated the F-1 status.
Student must contact ISSS to request an extension for cap gap. The DSO will need the following to support a data fix of the SEVIS record:
For a properly filed H-1B petition – A statement from the employer that an H-1B petition was submitted on behalf of
the student and along with proof of delivery to the USCIS Service Center.
For a waited-listed H-1B petition – A copy of the wait list letter from USCIS to the employer.
For a receipted or approved H-1B application – A copy of the I-797 receipt or approval notice.
The date of extension will depend on the scenario above for each student.
For students on active OPT, the cap gap extension for both employment and F-1 status starts the date the student's original OPT expires and ends September 30 – unless the H-1B petition is rejected, denied, or withdrawn. If the application is rejected, denied or withdrawn, the student has the 60 days grace period to return home, apply for a change of status or obtain a new I-20 for further education.
For students whose OPT expired prior to the filing date of the H-1B petition, the cap gap extension starts at the end of their grace period and ends September 30 unless the petition is rejected, denied, or withdrawn. These students will not have work authorization.
Students will not receive automatic notification when they have a cap gap extension. Students must request an I-20 from their DSO (International Student Advisor) showing the period of extension.
It is essential that the students maintain contact with their employer who filed the petition for any updates related to the H-1B decision. If the H-1B petition is rejected, denied or withdrawn it is the student's responsibility to maintain their status.
Students cannot travel outside the U.S. unless the EAD is valid while on the cap gap extension. However, the student may choose to leave the U.S. and obtain an H-1B visa to return to the U.S. and begin employment as an H-1B. The student will not be able to enter the U.S. except 10 days prior to the October 1 start date.
Students on a cap gap extension must report any change of address within 10 days as well as any unemployment dates. The 90 day limitation on unemployment continues during the cap gap extension.
See the chart here for the possible dates of extension depending the student's situation
Fact Sheet for potential employers regarding the cap gap can check on this fact sheet