F-1 students are allowed a 60-day grace period after completion of a course of study, or other authorized period of post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT), to allow them to prepare to depart the U.S., apply for a transfer to another SEVP-certified school, request a change of education level at the current school, or take steps to otherwise maintain legal status (8 CFR §214.2(f)(5)(iv)). In the past, many F-1 students were forced to depart the U.S. when the authorized stay (including the 60-day grace period) expired before an H-1B commenced on October 1, the start of the new fiscal year. (see 59 Fed. Reg. 55910 (Nov. 9, 1994)).
On April 8, 2008, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued an Interim Final Rule to extend cap gap relief to all F-1 students with pending H-1B petitions and extend OPT for STEM F-1 students (see 73 Fed. Reg. 55910 (April 8, 2008) and AILA Doc. No. 10042761
, posted May 15, 2013). If USCIS denies, rejects, or revokes an H-1B petition filed on behalf of an F-1 student covered by the automatic cap gap extension, the student will have the standard 60-day grace period to depart the U.S. from the date of the notification of the denial, rejection, or revocation, except that the 60-day grace period and cap gap extension will not apply if the denial is due to a status violation, misrepresentation, or fraud, or if the petition is revoked after approval due to a status violation, misrepresentation, or fraud. In that case, the F-1 student will be required to leave the U.S. immediately. (USCIS Announcement, “Extension of Post Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) and F-1 Status for Eligible Students under the H-1B Cap-Gap Regulations
” (Mar. 15, 2013)).