F1 Cap Gap Meaning
USCIS allows an F-1 student who has filed cap-subject change of status to H-1B, to have his or her F-1 status and any current employment authorization (OPT) extended up to Sept. 30.
This is known as filling the “cap-gap”, which actually is like a bridge to fill the “gap” between the end of F-1 status and the beginning of H-1B status.
The “cap-gap” period starts when an F-1 student’s status and work authorization expire, and they are extended through Sept. 30, with Oct. 1 being the requested start date of their H-1B employment, unless it is terminated or the H-1B petition is denied before Oct. 1.
Cap-Gap occurs because an employer may not have the option of filing H1B for the F-1 student at the time his/her OPT EAD is officially expiring.
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The F-1 student can stay in the USA while the change of status petition is pending without adding unlawful presence, provided they do not work without authorization.
You cannot refile an H1B after the denial in cap subject lottery. The only way is to file a new H1B in next year’s H1B season which starts on April 1.
You are not counted in cap subject lottery if your H1B application was selected in lottery but was later denied.
You can file a new H1B again in next year’s cap subject lottery process.
If an F-1 student with a pending change of status h1B petition has other work authorization (such as an I-765 with valid dates) that is valid even after Sept. 30, he/she can continue to work.
The chances of H1B approval after you file an appeal with USCIS are low. Statistics show that approval chances are between 3 to 10% based on the H1B denial reason and your employer’s paperwork.
You have 33 calendar days to file an H1B denial appeal.
If a cap-gap H-1B is pending on or after Oct. 1, the F-1 student is no longer authorized to work under the cap-gap. They should stop working on Oct 1 to avoid issues.
If the H1B petition is not selected in the lottery, or if the petition is denied after lottery selection, the cap-gap period terminates automatically.
H1B applications filed with a change of status are eligible for cap-gap OPT extension.
H1B is Denied
H1B can be denied in lottery quota cases and your options to stay in US vary in different scenarios.
Cap gap ends on Sep 30 every year and then you get 60 day grace period. This means that you have until Nov 29 to stay legally in US.
Hear what Emily Neumann has to say about options after H1B lottery is denied while you are in cap gap period:
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If your H1B lottery application was denied between Oct 1 to Nov 29, you may still continue to be on F1 status.
If the H1B application is denied after Nov 29, which means that your grace period has also expired, then you cannot stay in US.
The only way you can continue to stay in US is if you have filed any other application like a change of status from F1 to H4 before Nov 29.