Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Eligible Visas:
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H-1B Cap Gap Extension of OPT

The H-1B work visa is an employer sponsored application on your behalf. To begin the process of applying for H-1B and becoming eligible for an extension of OPT, you must first speak to your employer.  

The H-1B Cap is the congressionally-mandated limit on the number of individuals who may be granted initial H-1B status during each fiscal year. The cap is currently set at 65,000 plus 20,000 more for those with higher degrees (U.S. masters’ degree or higher). Employees who will work at institutions of higher education or a related or affiliated nonprofit entities, or at nonprofit research organizations or governmental research organizations are exempt from the fiscal year cap.

The H-1B Fiscal Year for Cap-Subject employers runs from October 1 to September 30 each year. An F-1 student graduating in the Spring Semester with a standard 12 months of Post Completion OPT will find that their work authorization will expire in June or July one year after graduation, leaving a gap in work authorization until October when H-1B status can begin.

Standard 12-months of Post-Completion OPT Example


The Cap Gap Extension of OPT through September 30 of the current year is granted if an H-1B petition has been filed by a Cap-Subject employer on the student’s behalf before the current period of OPT expires. The first day to file for H-1B is April 1.

H-1B must be filed between April 1 and expiration of OPT.

To be eligible for the Cap Gap Extension, students who have less than 12 months of Post-Completion OPT remaining after using some Pre-Completion OPT prior to graduation will need to be sure that their Post-Completion OPT is still valid on April 1. We recommend counting backwards from April 1 to determine your OPT start date.

Example of 9 months of Post-Completion OPT after 3-month Summer Internship


*Start date no earlier than July 2 or 3; Expiration date on April 2 or 3

If your OPT expires before April 1 and you are in a valid 60-day grace period on the first day to file an H-1B petition, your legal status to remain in the U.S. is extended to October 1 but there will be no work authorization granted for the gap period.

Work authorization on Cap Gap is valid until September 30 unless the H-1B petition is denied, withdrawn or revoked.

Evidence of work authorization for the extended period is reflected on a new I-20. There will be no new EAD card issued for Cap Gap Extension. OISS will be able to provide you with an updated I-20 if you notify us and provide evidence of a timely filed H-1B petition (receipt or approval notice) by sending a message to oiss@yale.edu with the subject "Cap Gap I-20."

No travel is advised during the Cap Gap period.


Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Related Links


Report updated OPT information to SEVIS

F-1 Students



Employment Authorization