Cap-Gap Questions for Foreign Students Answered

In order to answer questions regarding extension of Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) and F-1 status for eligible students under the H-1B Cap-Gap regulations, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has published a very helpful question and answer session.

The questions and answers address the automatic extension of F-1 student status in the United States for students with pending or approved H-1B petitions (including a request for change of status from F-1 to H-1B) for an employment start date of October 1, 2011 under the Fiscal Year 2012 H-1B cap.

As background, "cap-gap" commonly refers to the term for current regulations which allow certain students with pending or approved H-1B petitions to remain in F-1 status through the period where the students' status and work authorization would normally expire. "Cap-gap" relief allows students to "fill the gap" that would otherwise occur between the end of their F-1 status and the start date for their H-1B status. In other words, "cap-gap" relief allows students with timely filed pending H-1B change of status applications to extend their work authorization and H-1B status through the date that their H-1B petition becomes effective in the new fiscal year (in other words, October 1st). In this case, "timely filed" refers to petitions that were filed before the expiration of the students' existing period of optional practical training. Students whose practical training period had expired before the H-1B petition was submitted are eligible to remain in the U.S. under the cap-gap rules, but may not continue working.

For additional questions and answers regarding cap-gap, procedural issues and travel considerations, visit the USCIS Question and Answers.

Categories: Immigration Blog