What are the H-1B “Cap” and “Cap-Gap”?

The number of people who can obtain the H-1B status is regulated by a numerical limit, or “cap”, each fiscal year.

  • April 1 marks the opening of the H-1B cap filing season, when U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) begins accepting petitions for H-1Bs for the coming fiscal year.
  • The federal fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30.

NOTE: Institutions of higher education or their affiliated or related nonprofit entities, as well as nonprofit and government research organizations, are exempt from the H-1B cap. They can file H-1B petitions any time of the year and are not subject to the numerical limit. Cap-exempt employers may plan in advance to avoid any gap between OPT and the H-1B status begin date. Since they are exempt from the cap, the information below does not apply.

If a person's H-1B is subject to the cap, and if that person's OPT expires before September 30, the time in between the EAD expiration and October 1 is called the “cap-gap.”

Frequently Asked Questions about CAP-GAP

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