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The "Cap-Gap" Relief for a F-1 Student Changing to H-1B Status

Hi William:

What is the "Cap-Gap" Relief for a F-1 student changing to H-1B Status?


Status change from F-1 to H-1B status often requires planning and the ability to navigate somewhat complex immigration laws and regulations. The timing and logistics are determined in large part by the H-1B cap and the cap-gap rule for F-1 students. 

A F-1 students seeking to change status to H-1B within the United States must maintain a valid nonimmigrant status until the requested start date of employment in the H-1B petition. The exception to this is for certain F-1 students eligible for, what is referred to as, "cap-gap" relief. Such a student is allowed to remain in the United States pending the decision in the H-1B case, even if her/his status expires before the requested H-1B start date. In some instances, a student with Optional Practical Training (OPT) is able to continue to work while the H-1B petition is pending at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

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