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OPT Cap Gap Extension

OPT Cap Gap Extension

H-1B is a work visa that is sponsored by an employer. The H-1B cap is the limit on the number of H-1Bs allowed each fiscal year. The cap does not apply to all H-1B petitions. You must discuss with your employer whether your H-1B petition is subject to the cap.

The period in-between the time that an F-1 student’s status and work authorization expires and  the start date of their approved H-1B employment period is known as cap-gap.

A “Cap Gap” extension is for students with a pending or approved cap-subject H-1B petition with a change of status option. Students whose H-1B applications are filed under Consular Processing may not take advantage of this cap-gap extension.

The cap gap employment benefit is triggered only if USCIS receives a qualifying H-1B application before the expiration of approved standard 12-month Optional Practical Training or 24-month STEM extension Optional Practical Training.

There is no cap-gap employment benefit if the H-1B is filed before the Optional Practical Training period begins or after this period ends. If USCIS receives a qualifying H-1B petition before the student’s OPT is approved or after it ends but while the student is on the 60-day grace period, only a cap-gap extension of D/S will be triggered but not cap-gap extension of employment authorization.

How to Request a new I-20 with Cap Gap notation

Log on to your iTerp account and click F-1 Student Services > Cap Gap OPT request. You will be asked to submit the following documentation:

  • EAD card
  • H-1B I-797 Notice of Action Notice or I-797 Approval Notice
    • Statement from the employer that student is beneficiary listed on H-1B petition
    • Proof of delivery of H-1B petition to USCIS showing date of receipt

As the Cap-Gap period comes to an end, what reporting requirements need to be completed?

In order to close out your F-1 immigration status, we would recommend taking the following steps on https://iterp.umd.edu before September 30 (you may lose your access to the iTerp system shortly after October 1, so it is recommended to do this before this date):

  • ALL STUDENTS ON OPT OR STEM EXTENSION: Report the end date of your employment. Please log on to iTerp and in the “OPT/STEM Services” menu, report the end date of your OPT employment using the “OPT: Update Existing Employer Information” form.
  • ALL STUDENTS ON STEM EXTENSION: Upload your I-983 with final evaluation. Please log on to iTerp and in the “OPT/STEM Services” menu, fill out the “STEM: I-983 Final Evaluation” form. Upload your I-983 with the final evaluation completed. Please make sure you upload a document that includes sections 1, 2, 3 and has the final evaluation completed and signed by your employer.