Warning: Talk to your Immigration Attorney about the impact of New H1B Visa Lottery Registration and How it impacts your OPT or STEM OPT Cap-Gap.
You are used to reading about the regular H1B Visa lottery process. But things are new this year.
With the New H1B Visa process comes new changes for F1 Visa holders who will be on Cap-Gap between April 1 to Sep 30th.
So, watch out!
Let me post a screenshot from NAFSA’s Advisory for College DSO’s
Based on my limited knowledge of the new H1B Visa Registration Process, there are a group of F1 Students who have to pay close attention to the following dates:
- The student’s OPT start and end dates
- The end date of the student’s 60-day grace period following OPT
- The H-1B initial registration period (March 1 – March 20, 2020)
- The petitioner’s designated filing period
- The significance of April 1, 2020
- The requested October 1, 2020 start date
- The date the employer files the H-1B petition requesting a change of status
So, what’s the big deal?
- First: Understand how Cap-Gap worked for previous H1B Visa Season
- Second: Understand how Cap-Gap will work for FY 2021 (from April 1, 2020)
F1 Visa OPT and STEM Cap-Gap Today
Here is an example from Fairleigh Dickinson University on how long Cap-Gap I-20 will be issued based on timely H1B filing.
By the way, there is one more possible date (July 28) that is seldom used these days. (Source: NAFSA)
Are you with me?
Did you understand the significance of June 1?
If you applied for H1B Visa on April 2019 and if your OPT or STEM OPT Expires after April 1 and before June 1:
- If your employer has filed your H1B petition
- You haven’t received the receipt notice
- THEN you are eligible for a preliminary cap-gap extension until June 1.
Irrespective of H1B Lottery Results, you would get a Cap-Gap extension till June 1.
Now, that’s changing!
With the New H1B Visa Registration, the lottery results should be out by March 31!
- Registration Dates: March 1 to 20
- Lottery Selection Announced: March 21 to 31
- H1B Application Filed: Within 90 days of Lottery Notification Date
Not Selected in Lottery?
As per the Attorney and DSO, I spoke with, USCIS is yet to issue guidance on OPT and STEM OPT Cap-Gap.
Here’s what the NAFSA Advisory says.
If you are not selected in the lottery AND your OPT or STEM expires after March 31, there’s no cap-gap.
If your OPT is set to expire on April 15th, you could have received a cap-gap until June 1.
But, that option is not there this FY 2021 (unless USCIS says anything different).
Selected in Randon Selection of H1B?
If your H1B petition is selected, you would have 90 days to submit the LCA and H1B Visa petition with USCIS.
90 Day Clock could start from April 1 (and run till June 30).
What if your OPT Expires say on April 15th?
Your Immigration Attorney or Employer should file your H1B Petition to USCIS before April 15th.
If you wait for a full 90 days, you can’t get the Cap-Gap.
To be eligible for the Cap-Gap, the H1B visa petition should be filed timely (before OPT Expires or STEM OPT Expires) with COS and start date of Oct 1.
So, you have to notify your attorney about OPT Ends Date and Attorney, and your employer should ensure, after selection in Lottery, they send the Package ASAP.
This year, with the H1B Visa New Registration process, you could know the H1B Visa results by March 31, 2020.
- If Selected in Lottery = File H1B Petition Before OPT Expires.
- If Not Selected in Lottery = No Cap-Gap After OPT Expires.
Here’s what I would do if I were in this OPT or STEM OPT and Cap-Gap situation.
Questions About Cap-Gap?
- Please post your question in the comments
- Share this post with your friend who will have Cap-Gap issues.
Applying for H1B Visa? Read the Following Articles
- H1B Visa 2021 – Registration, Lottery, Process and Dates (+ 15 FAQs)
- Sneak Peek Into H1B Visa Registration Tool [with Screenshots]
- New H1B Visa 2021 Process vs Old Lottery [Visual Guide]
- The Best Feature of H1B Visa Pre-Registration Tool is the Reserve Pool (+ 5 FAQ)
- 11 FAQ’s About H1B Visa Lottery Registration Tool (with a Solution to Stop Multiple Filings)