What is the F-1/H-1B cap-gap?

F-1 students are admitted to the US for “duration of status” (D/S), meaning that they may remain in the US for 60 days after the end of their program or after the duration of their employment authorization under OPT. Cap-gap occurs when an F-1 student’s status or work authorization expire in the current fiscal year before they can change status to H-1B and start their approved H-1B employment in the next fiscal year beginning on October 1. An F-1 student in a cap-gap situation would, in most cases, have to leave the United States and return at the time his or her H-1B status becomes effective at the beginning of the next fiscal year. Depending on when the student’s status expires, such circumstances could require the student to remain outside the United States for several months. The “cap-gap” provisions allow an extension of F-1 status, post-completion OPT, or the 60-day grace period, assuming the student is in one of those “statuses” on the date the H-1B is filed. To have post-completion OPT extended, the student’s EAD must be valid at the time of filing the H-1B petition.