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I am in the U.S. on F-1 OPT status and I was selected/not selected in this year’s H-1B visa lottery. Does Cap-Gap Extension apply to me? Can I stay in the U.S. until September 30?

By April 7, 2020May 19th, 2021H-1B and E-3 Visa, Immigration
Photo courtesy of Evonne on Flickr, labeled for reuse: https://www.flickr.com/photos/evoo73/9140462500

If you are currently in the U.S. on F-1 OPT status, your OPT work authorization expires soon, and your company filed an H-1B registration, you may be asking if you have to leave the U.S. immediately after your work authorization card expires.

You are currently in the U.S. on F-1 OPT status and your H-1B registration was not selected in the H-1B visa lottery

If your H-1B registration was not selected in this year’s H-1B visa lottery, you will have to stop working on the day your OPT work authorization card expires. You will then have 60 day grace period to leave the U.S.  Please note that the filing of the registration does NOT provide for Cap Gap. You only get Cap Cap if your petition has been selected.  You can find out more about Cap Gap by clicking here.

You are currently in the U.S. on F-1 OPT status and your H-1B registration was selected in the H-1B lottery

If your H-1B registration was selected in this year’s H-1B visa lottery and your employer timely files a Change of Status application requesting the October 1 start date, your F-1 status and work authorization will be extended until September 30 and therefore there will be no gap in your work authorization.

Please note that if your petition is rejected, denied, revoked, or withdrawn after your OPT work authorization expired, you have to stop working immediately. You will then have 60 day grace period to leave the U.S. but you are not authorized to work during the grace period.

If your H-1B petition is approved before September 30, your F-1 status and work authorization will be automatically extended until September 30 and your status will change to H-1B on October 1.

If your H-1B petition is still pending after September 30, you can still stay in the U.S. until USCIS issues a final decision in the case, but you are not allowed to work after September 30.

Please see our blog post about Cap-gap when you click here.

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