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 filed an H-1B petition.
The Cap-Gap extension applies to all F-1 students on OPT whose non-college or non-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 If the H-1B petition is withdrawn or denied your OPT Cap-Gap authorization will end 10 days after that, and you will have a 60-day grace period to depart the country, change status, or begin a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 you 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 DMV, or a similar party requests that you provide an updated I-20 that reflects your cap-gap OPT, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to request access to the “Cap-Gap I-20 Request” e-form in Atlas.
If you are an F-1 student whose OPT is based on a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in a STEM field (as defined by the Department of Homeland Security [DHS]), you may be eligible for an extension of post-completion OPT authorization.
Learn more about the STEM OPT extension