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F-1 Students: How to Handle the Cap-Gap

by | Apr 25, 2018 | FAQ, Immigration

If you are an F-1 student who has recently graduated and are in post-competition optional practical training (OPT), you may have a gap between when your F-1 or OPT status ends and your H-1B status will begin, if selected.  

Fortunately, USCIS has a policy in place that can allow you to stay, and often continue working, in the United States while you wait for news on your H-1B filing.

You must:

  • Be the beneficiary of an H-1B petition;
  • Have timely filed a request for change of status;

If so, your F-1 status and current employment authorization, if applicable, should be automatically extended until October 1st.

The cap-gap period begins when your F-1 status / OPT work authorization expires and ends on October 1st, unless otherwise terminated.   During this gap-cap period, you should stay in touch with your school and explore options if you’re not selected under the H-1B lottery. 

You can learn more about the specifics of USCIS’s cap-gap policy on their website.



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