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Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Frequently Asked Questions | OPT Application | OPT ExtensionOPT Reporting | H1-B Cap-Gap

H1B Cap-Gap Extension 

A cap-gap extension is a regulatory provision which extends an eligible F-1 student's status to bridge the gap between the end of F-1 status and start of H-1B status, thereby allowing the student to remain in the US during the "gap." The cap-gap extension is available to students who, as of April 1st, were either on approved OPT or in their 60-day grace period and have a pending or approved change-of-status October 1st, H-1B petition with the USCIS that was filed prior to the expiration of their OPT or 60-day grace period.

If the employer filed your H-1B petition and it is received by USCIS prior to your post-completion OPT expiration date, you qualify for an extension of your OPT employment authorization.

Application for Cap-Gap Extension I-20

If your H-1B petition has been filed by your employer and receipted by USCIS, you are eligible for an automatic cap-gap extension I-20 throughSeptember 30th. To request this cap-gap extension I-20, send the following to with "Cap-Gap Extension" in the subject line:

  1. SEVIS number
  2. Your full name
  3. Scan and attach to the email: A copy of the I-797 Receipt notice from USCIS or USCIS approval notice
  4. Mail  to SIUE International Programs, Campus Box 1616, Edwardsville, IL 62026-1616 a self-addressed return envelope with tracking number with sufficient stamps/postage or email a pre-paid shipping label to to have the CAP GAP I-20 mailed back to you. SIUE can no longer scan and email I-20s

Once all the documents are emailed to the Office of International Programs your adviser will issue a new I-20. Processing time for new I-20 is 2-4 business days.

Travel during a Cap-Gap Extension period

A valid EAD card is required to re-enter during the cap-gap extension period along with a valid passport, F-1 visa, signed I-20, and employer letter. Students with EAD cards that have expired are not eligible to re-enter the US during the cap-gap extension period.

Please note, traveling outside the US may interfere with the processing of your H-1B petition. Office of International Programs strongly advises students to consult with their employers and attorneys regarding all travel plans before departing the US.

If your EAD is expired, you will not be granted entry to the US based on the cap-gap extension. If you must travel during the extension period, be prepared to apply for H-1B visa outside the US and adjust your return travel plans accordingly. Note: Under H-1B regulations, you may only enter the US up to ten days prior to October 1st.

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