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International Travel During Cap Gap for Students between F-1 Program and New H-1B Job

Hi William,

As a F-1 student, can I travel outside the U.S. during the cap-gap period between the F-1 academic program and the new H-1B job?


Under certain circumstances, an F-1 student on the cap gap extension may travel abroad and seek readmission to the United States. However, if an F-1 student travels abroad before USCIS approves their H-1B change of status petition, USCIS will deem the petition abandoned.

Many F-1 students inquire as to whether they may travel outside the U.S. during the cap-gap period between the academic program and the new H-1B job. The students generally should not travel while the H-1B petition and change-of-status request is still pending. The request will be considered abandoned, and the student may have to remain outside the U.S. while the H-1B application is adjudicated, and then apply for an H-1B visa after approval.

However, the F-1 students whose H-1B applications and change-of-status requests are approved may travel abroad and reenter the U.S. in F-1 status prior to October 1st. The student must also have an unexpired F-1 visa, along with proper I-20s showing approved cap-gap and endorsement for travel.

The student’s F-1 status will expire per the program end date listed on their Form I-20. Meaning, if a student leaves the United States before USCIS approves their H-1B petition, that student will not be able to re-enter the United States as an F-1 student pursuant to the cap gap extension provisions.

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