An F-1 student who is the beneficiary of an H-1B petition and request for change of status that is filed on time may have his or her F-1 status and any current employment authorization extended until the first day of the new fiscal year.
The “cap-gap” period starts when an F-1 student’s status and work authorization expires and, unless terminated, ends on October 1, the required start date of their approved H-1B employment
Cap-gap occurs because an employer may not file, and USCIS may not accept, an H-1B petition submitted more than six months in advance of the date of actual need for the beneficiary’s services or training. As a result, the earliest date that an employer can file an H-1B cap-subject petition is April 1 for the following fiscal year, which starts October 1. If USCIS approves the H-1B petition and the accompanying change of status request, the earliest date that the student may start the approved H-1B employment is October 1.
Denied Petitions: If an H-1B petition filed for an F-1 student with a cap-gap extension is denied, rejected, revoked, or withdrawn, the student will have the standard 60-day grace period (from the date of the notification of the denial, rejection, revocation, or withdrawal of the petition) to depart the United States.
The 60-day grace period does not apply to an F-1 student whose accompanying change of status request is denied due to a status violation, misrepresentation, or fraud. In such cases, the F-1 student is ineligible for cap-gap extension of status and the 60- day grace period. Similarly, the 60-day grace period and cap-gap extension of status does not apply to an F-1 student whose petition was revoked based on a finding of a status violation, fraud or misrepresentation discovered following approval. In both of these instances, students are required to immediately leave the United States.
Travel During Cap-Gap Period: An F-1 student may generally travel abroad and seek readmission to the United States in F-1 status during a cap-gap period if:
- The student’s H-1B petition and request for change of status has been approved;
- The student seeks readmission before his or her H-1B employment begins(normally at the beginning of the fiscal year on October 1); and
- The student is otherwise admissible.
Please note that even if a F-1 student meets all of the requirements listed above, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer always makes the final determination on whether to admit an application for admission after inspecting you at a port-of-entry. Applicants may refer to the DHS Study in the States page for a list of the documents needed to confirm eligibility for F-1 status.
If the H-1B petition is pending beyond October 1, a student can remain in the United States based on the pending change of status petition. However, a student with OPT employment authorization extended through the cap gap period must stop working until the H-1B petition is approved.
More pertinent details about USCIS policy is available at