Because of an increase in applicants and premium processing requests, USCIS reported it is not able to process and confer status changes for all specialty occupation (H-1B) petitions by October 1.

As a result, F-1 status students who have a pending H-1B petition after October 1 may lawfully remain in the United States for up to 60 days while their change of status petitions are pending, but they accrue unlawful presence if they continue to work.

F-1 students who filed a timely H-1B petition in an occupation subject to an annual quota were permitted to have their employment authorizations extended through September 30.

This regulation was called a “cap-gap,” as it was intended to fill a gap between the expiration of F-1 student status and the start of H-1B status, if approved.

If the H-1B is denied before October 1, the student’s work authorization terminates on denial.

Premium processing on other H-1B petitions has been temporarily suspended to allow USCIS representatives to prioritize cap-gap cases.

However, because cap-gap work authorizations are only valid through September 30, these former students are not permitted to work after that date until their H-1B petitions are approved.

Students with F-1 status waiting for H-1B decisions whose work authorizations extend beyond September 30, such as an approved I-765, may continue to work in accordance with the dates of their authorization.

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