The end of work authorization for F-1 cap-gap students with pending H-1B petitions was September 30th, 2018. These students risk accruing unlawful presence if they continue to work on or after October 1st, 2018. The punishment for accruing a significant amount of unlawful presence can be severe. Six months to one year of unlawful presence can result in a 3-year bar from entering the United States, while even one additional day after the first year can result in a 10-year bar. To avoid this, students should contact their H-1B petitioners and have their employer or counsel file an expedite request with USCIS by calling Customer Service at 1-800-375-5283 citing “severe financial loss to a company or person” because of an inability to earn a salary from October 1st, 2018. Although, USCIS has allocated additional resources to cap-gap cases, expediting is not always guaranteed. GLF advises students to remain in lawful status even if the expedite request is denied. If possible, students should not depart the country until their H-1B case is decided.
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