Students Applying for H1B Visa 2016: Pay Attention to Cap Gap

Students Applying for H1B Visa 2016: Pay Attention to Cap Gap

Posted on February 09, 2015

If you are an international student in USA on F-1 visa applying for H1B visa for 2016, don’t forget your cap-gap requirements.

What is “Cap-Gap”?

It is the “gap” period between the end of F-1/ Optical practical training (OPT) status and the beginning of H-1B status, if the F-1 status is not extended for qualifying students. It is termed “cap-gap” as it allows students with pending H-1B to remain on F-1 status.  There are two types of “cap-gap” petitions:

1. For H-1B petitions filed
2. For H-1B petitions receipted or approved

How to Apply?

To apply for Cap-gap, you may need all or some of the required information. For more information regarding your “cap-gap” application contact your international student office and/or your attorney or employer.

  1. Contact the international student center in your university with following documents
    1. Copy of your current EAD
    2. Copy of your current I-20
    3. Copy of your current I-94 records
    4. Copy of your current passport expiration and biography page
    5. Copy of your  I-797 Receipt of acceptance at USCIS or approval notice from USCI
  2. Create an Email/cover-letter with the following info:
    1. Your Sevis number
    2. Your employer’s name and full address
    3. Date you start employment as H-1 employer
    4. Your job tittle and supervisor’s name and contact
    5. Your current mailing address, email address and phone

Processing Time

The processing “cap-gap” I-20 may require data fix in the SEVIS database by the government, which requires a three week processing grace period. Therefore, please allow a processing time of at least three weeks for your new I-20.

Additional Information

Here are some additional guidelines. Please take legal counsel for your employer if necessary:

  • The US government does not recommend students to travel outside of the US during the “cap-gap” extension period. If you plan to travel to your home country, you should also prepare to apply for H-1B visa at the consular post in your home country.
  • The 90-day “unemployment clock” as applicable on OPT is also applicable during “cap-gap”.
  • You must inform your student office if applied for ‘cap-gap for H-1B petitions filed’ and the petition is later denied or withdrawn.
  • If you have applied for “cap-gap” and your H-1B application gets rejected you get 60-days’ notice from the date of receiving the notice to depart from US, change status, or change degree level as long as you have not otherwise violated status. You cannot leave and re-enter the US and cannot work.
  • If you authorized post-completion OPT on or after April 1, you become eligible for the extension for Cap-gap and you can continue to work with the employer while cap-gap request is pending.
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