As many of you know, you get shorter duration of I-94, if your passport is expiring before the petition expiration. To extend I-94, you have 5 options. One of them that works most of the times is crossing US border. One of our readers ( anonymous for privacy) went to Laredo, TX to extend their I-94. The user was kind enough to take time to share their experience with our readers. Thanks to the user for taking time to write it up for community benefit.
Background : My I-94 was expiring in January 2021 and my Kid’s i-94 too was expiring in August 2021, both because of my passport expiry. My H1B visa is valid till October 2021.
Options Considered for my I-94 Extension
- Applying for an H1B extension : Since I had more than 12 months of Petition and VISA validity left, and a renewed passport in my hand, I thought that extending might be risky, also there wasn’t enough time for the paperwork to be done.
- Exiting and re-entering the United States : Flying out to India/Mexico was too risky with COVID-19.
- Contacting CBP Deferred inspection sites : I decided to contact the deferred inspection site at DFW (Dallas). They gave an outright reply saying that I-94 cannot be updated since it is not a correction. They will only correct any errors in I-94 and passport renewal is not an error. I got the same reply on phone and email. After reading through multiple experiences over the internet, I decided to give a try going to the CBP office at any land border.
After evaluating all the options, I decided to go US Mexico border. Since I live near Dallas, Laredo was closest. Brownsville was also an option as well.
Plan to go to Laredo, TX for I-94 Extension
I finally decided to go to Laredo since there were multiple positive outcomes, but as a back-up I also had Brownsville in my mind. I decided to go on a weekend, so that if it doesn’t go as planned on Saturday, I can try my luck again the same day or on Sunday at Brownsville (which was around 3hrs drive from Laredo). So, I booked a room in Laredo for overnight stay. An important thing to note is to always have a backup 🙂
Pre-pay the I-94 Extension fee online : Pay the $6 for each person online and make sure to carry the print-out of the receipt
Drive to Laredo, TX for I-94 extension
I travelled with family as my kid too had to get the I-94 done. We started in the morning at around 7 AM. It took around 7.5 hours drive for us in the car from Dallas area. I took enough breaks so that I am not stressed out. (It might be 6 hours without that many breaks).
Step by Step Process to Extend I-94 at Laredo, TX Border
Below are the steps I followed, similar to other folks who went to Laredo.
Step 1 : Checking at CBP Office regarding I-94 Extension
I parked my car at Valero station (paid $5) and went to the CBP office. Here is the Address : 619 Farragut Street, Laredo, TX
There is a small board which says “Permits”, which is the entrance path. The officers near the gate asked me what the purpose was. Once I explained that it was for I-94 extension, they told me to go to Bridge 1. I tried to ask again, their answer was the same, they said ‘all’ I-94 cases do the same.
Step 2 : Parking Car to get to US Mexico Border near Bridge 1
To get to Bridge 1, the easy landmark is the Mall. The mall is about 0.8 Miles from CBP office. As I had my kid, it was not an option for us to walk. We used the Mall parking to park the car and get to Bridge 1. Below is the address for Mall parking.
Address -1600 Water St, Laredo, TX 78040
Make sure to drive very carefully as many streets are one-way and one of the main one leads to Mexico, so be careful. Below is how it looks on Google Maps for your reference.
Step 3 : Finding the Bridge 1 or Pedestrian Bridge
After parking, getting to the bridge was a bit confusing, but was able to figure out and all staff were helpful. The bridge to cross to Mexico side on foot is called by different names as below.
- Pedestrian Bridge
- Bridge 1
- Gateway to the Americas International Bridge
You can ask for these and anyone can help you get there. As soon as the staff saw us lost, they gave us the direction to bridge and how to come back (cut across).
The reason for confusion is, there is also one more bridge that is only for cars towards Mexico. Bridge 1 is only for Pedestrians and cars from Mexico
Carry Cash : Make sure to carry some cash as the turnstiles need a $1 coin, there is a change counter nearby which you can use to get the same.
Step 4 : Entering Bridge to Mexico side, turning back
Technically, we do not need to actually reach the Mexican side, we just cross-over to US side from the mid-way mark. There is a small gate through which we can cross the bridge and come back to the US side. There was nothing done on the Mexico Side like checking passport or stamp, we turned back at mid-way mark.
Long Lines at Bridge for entry to US : The line at bridge to come back to US side was huge – at least more than 150 people. But the officers told us to skip the line and go straight to the counter (the first one just outside the building) I am not sure what that is, maybe SENTRI. not sure though.
This was a surprise as we were thinking that it would take at least 2 hours in the line. (maybe because of kid they allowed us to skip.
Step 5 : Process by CBP Officer to Extend I-94
- After the first check, the officer escorted us to inside the building and asked us to wait at a counter.
- The officer at counter checked passports, then asked about address, job, location , etc. and why I need to extend. I answered all as per my documents.
- He again checked something with his colleagues and then took photos and biometric. Then there was an issue with printer. We had to wait another 30 mins.
- Again took biometric and we’re finally done. They stamped the i-94 on our passports and also gave the paper I-94. All were really polite and helpful.
You may also read below I-94 Extension experiences at other locations :
- I-94 Extension by Crossing US Border – 5 Experiences at Otay Mesa CBP
- I-94 Extension without Crossing US Border – 3 Experiences – Otay Mesa
- L1A – I-94 Extension Experience – Crossing Border at CBP Otay Mesa
- 3 Experiences US Canada Border – I-94 Extension near Detroit
- I-94 Extension by Flying to Mexico City During COVID