Reminder - Extension of Post Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) and F-1 Status for Eligible Students under the H-1B Cap-Gap Regulations

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ALERT:  Although F-1 nonimmigrant students with degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) may apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion OPT employment authorization, our policies regarding the cap-gap extension remain the same. 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.

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