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F-1 “Cap-gap” Status

Work Authorization Extension Only Valid Through September 30, 2018

F-1 students who have an H-1B petition that remains pending on October 1, 2018, risk accruing unlawful presence if they continue to work on or after October 1 (unless otherwise authorized to continue employment), as their “cap-gap” work authorization is only valid through September 30.

“Cap gap” regulations allow an F-1 student who is the beneficiary of a timely filed H-1B cap-subject petition requesting a change of status to H-1B on October 1, to have his or her F-1 status and any current employment authorization extended through September 30.

If a cap-gap H-1B petition remains pending on or after October 1, the F-1 student is no longer authorized to work under the cap-gap regulations.  However, the F-1 student generally may remain in the U.S. while the change of status petition is pending without accruing unlawful presence, provided they do not work without authorization.  If an F-1 student with a pending change of status petition has work authorization (such as an I-765 with valid dates) that extends past September 30, they may continue to work as authorized.

Travel during Cap-Gap Extension Period

An F-1 student may generally travel abroad and seek readmission to the U.S. in F-1 status during a cap-gap period if:

  • The student’s H-1B petition and request for change of status has been approved;
  • The student seeks readmission before his or her H-1B employment begins (normally on October 1); and
  • The student is otherwise admissible.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer makes the final determination on whether to admit an application for admission.

Please visit USCIS’ website for more information.

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