I-94 Extension Experience at Otay Mesa Center in USA

I-94 Extension in US at CBP Otay Mesa after Passport Renewal Experience

In US Immigration - Visas by Guest AuthorUpdated : 106 Comments

It is very important for everyone to maintain Status in US and have I-94 valid at all times. 

If you get a shorter I-94 ( arrival departure record) duration at US Port of Entry than the approval notice listed end date, it is very likely that your passport is expiring soon. In such case, you need to apply for I-94 Extension within USA after getting new passport. With COVID-19, getting this can be very tricky as many of the CBP offices and borders are closed. Some were successful to get I-94 Extended by going to Canada Border from Detroit, but our reader Vijay was not lucky. He flew to San Diego and got it renewed there.  Thanks to Vijay for taking time to write down the detail experience and sharing it with community. We really appreciate it ! You can email your experience as well to [email protected]

Experience – How I extended my I-94 (With lock-down restrictions in place)

Background : My I-94 was expiring on 15th July, 2020 (Tied to the expiry date of my old passport)

I hold an H1B Visa, valid until Aug, 2021

 My Options for I-94 Extension after Passport Renewal in US with COVID-19:

With the ongoing restrictions in place (especially air travel to international destinations), I had just two options for extending my I-94.

  • Applying for an H1B extension (As suggested by my employer)
  • Crossing the land border and re-entering the United States

Since I had more than 15 months of VISA validity left, and a renewed passport in my hand,  I found no point in applying for an extension and putting myself in risk of a potential RFE/Denial. I decided to try both the land borders (Canada and Mexico).

Option 1 : Extend I-94 at US – Canada Border (via Windsor Tunnel ) near Detroit

I drove all the way from Chicago to Detroit (Detroit-Windsor tunnel), however, I wasn’t successful in getting my I94 updated. Felt I was a bit unlucky. I did cross the US border, entered Canada, and explained my situation to the Canadian border officials. They were nice, polite, and agreed to send me back after some verification (took about 30 min). On returning I was stopped at the Detroit checkpoint, and the officer politely admitted me WITHOUT renewing my I94. On explaining the situation, the officer said, since I was not “technically Admitted” into Canada (just turned back from border), I never really left US, and hence cannot be issued a new I94. Turns out going to Canada Border, and being admitted inside Canada are two different scenarios. Weird. But this is what happened. Looks like updating the I94 is at the sole discretion of the CBP officer at the checkpoint. Done on a case by case basis and there’s no written guideline for this process.

Please note: I had called the officers on both sides of the border, explained my situation 2 days ago, and was given a green signal, and hence I made the journey. Sadly it just turned out to be a nice long drive and nothing else.

Option 2:  I-94 Extension at US – Mexico Border (CBP Otay Mesa, San Diego)

This was my last try before applying for an extension. Staying in Chicago, this option involved “Air Travel” which, at this point, is both risky and expensive. I planned a day trip to San Diego.

Flight Booking, Flights Process with COVID-19:

Flight tickets were very expensive. It will be hard to get direct flights. They are trying to club cities and minimize losses (connecting flights). Face masks are compulsory to enter the airport/flights. Airports are deserted. It will be difficult to get water/coffee so be prepared. Uber/Lyft facility is available at San Diego airport. Saves time as opposed to getting a rental car and driving if you are under tight time constraints.

  • I flew to San Diego from Chicago early morning and reached the destination airport by 11am. Next, I Headed straight to the CBP Otay Mesa center.
  • Used Uber/Lyft for my commute from Airport to CBP center as that was the easiest option in new location.

Note on SENTRI Otay Mesa center : Remember, as I write this on 5/21/2020, the SENTRI Otay Mesa center (which is in the same building as CBP) is currently closed for in-person visits.  I followed the instructions of Abhishek (in another post), and reached the “Permit” room of Otay Mesa CBP center.

CBP Officer advice to Cross US and Mexico Border : The officer there was not ready to update my I94. In fact, she suggested “crossing of borders” may be one of the options, but not to hold her accountable if something goes wrong and I am not admitted inside the US. However, she was kind enough to tell me the whole  process, pointed me to the bridge that connects US and Mexico and asked me to walk down, go to the Mexican Immigration, get stamped and take a U-Turn to the United States. And then, she told me to forget about her and this conversation that we had. Basically, we never met and no one explained me the process 

Note on Mexico Visa  : I did not had any specific Mexico Tourist VISA. It appears that holding a valid US VISA is enough to enter Mexico. My H1B Visa is valid until Aug, 2021

Crossing US and Mexico Border for I-94 update  : I did as directed by officer. Walked the bridge, passed the two revolving black gates and entered Mexico. Went to their immigration, and explained the situation. The officers took my new passport, stamped it and showed me the way out. I took a U-turn and started walking towards the US. There are lanes for cars, and trucks, and a parallel pavement that pedestrians take to enter the US. There’s a pre-check at the gate to the US, and then there is another gate which leads you to the POE CBP officers (a set up that we see in the airports).

Questions asked by CBP officer during entry for I-94 Extension :

  • Why are you here?
  • Where do you work?
  • Did you come all the way from Chicago (exclamation)!!?!! When are you flying back?

Process in CBP Center to issue New updated I-94  

Next, I was sent to another officer with a “yellow note” attached to my passport. That basically means, I was to be issued a new I-94. I was taken back to the permits room (where this all started). Another min-interview – basic questions. Very friendly officer. Showed sympathy that I had to travel all the way from Chicago, paying almost double the amount of normal fare. My fingerprints were taken here, and then my new passport was stamped with “Admitted” stamp until the end of my VISA validity. All good, all smiles. Thanked the officer. Headed back to the airport, boarded the flight back to home. At no point I had to produce any documents other than my passports (old and new).

But  then, do ensure you carry all the supporting documents. So yes, Second time lucky: I did get my I94 updated at the Otay Mesa CBP.

Remember : In this case, I was specifically given the option to either cross over to Mexico and enter (at my own risk) or just go back without doing anything. No one will ever assure of “cross and we will admit you to US safely”. You will be the decision maker.

Online I-94 Fee Payment : Although I had paid the fees for I94 update form online ($6), but I was never asked for it. May be because I has to cross the border and enter anyways. So, the I94 gets automatically updated.

Why I had to cross the border : According to the officer, she was not allowed to directly update my I94, and It can be only done when I cross the border and re-enter.  

 Let me know if you have any questions, and I will be happy to answer. Good Luck!

   

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Comments ( 106 )

  1. Ganesh

    HI All,

    Am planning to go to San Deigo next week for renewing my I-94. If anyone in bay area is also planning for I-94 renewal then we can plan to travel together. Please let me know.

    Thanks,
    Ganesh

  2. Deepak

    I got my i94 updated today (Sunday, around 7:30pm PDT). Seems like Land Port of Entry is open for 24×7. I think, one mentioned in https://www.cbp.gov/contact/ports/otay-mesa-california-2506 is applicable to GLOBAL SENTRI OFFICE which is located at same address. They asked me to cross Mexico border and re-enter US. Crossing Mexico border and re-enter took around 15min. Since I already paid $6 FEE online for updating i94 they asked me go directly to PERMIT room. I had to wait for my i-94 update in PERMIT room for 30min as there were few other PERMIT work going on. Overall all officers at POE are aware of PERMIT (i-94) update, I mean, US CBP officer, Mexican Border officer, US Land Port of Entry security check officer and officer who provided i-94 are aware the process/condition and all were pro for updating i-94 doc.

    1. Deepak

      I saw still lot of people entering from Mexico even at 8pm. So I think land POE is always open. My suggestion is, enquire about availability of border offices before exiting. Also just to be on same page, ask officer that, they won’t be any issue on re-enter with valid visa. This is just make sure they remember you and allow you on re-enter and you only looking for i-94 update 🙂

      1. Deepak

        BTW, i got my i-94 updated against my NEW PASSPORT. So it depends on officer you updates your i-94. OLD or NEW PASSPORT, both works.

        1. SB

          Does crossing mexico border mean that you meet the Mexico border officials on the other side and get their stamping? Or does it mean that take an U-turn even before meeting the mexican officials?

          Did you go to the PERMIT room before crossing the border and they asked you to cross the border?

          1. Deepak

            Yes, I did go to PERMIT room to enquire about i-94 update and US CBP officer asked me to cross the border and re-entry USA. Once you cross the USA border and enter Mexico you have to meet Mexico border official and get stamping. It’s just like regular international immigration process.

            USA and Mexico pedestrian crossing is separated by a bridge, once you take the bridge from USA side, you will end up in Mexico immigration office. After getting stamped from Mexico officer, cross the roads and re-enter USA pedestrian land port entry, which is nothing but same PERMIT office. Check out the maps, it’s pretty clear, there are two building connected via bridge, underneath the bridge is road that connects US and MEXICO.

  3. Jay

    Quick update ::–

    I got my I-94 updated today at Otay Mesa center with out crossing the border.
    Reached the First Bank using ride share as mentioned in other posts.

    Walked towards the Office building which is after the bridge. Pass by the bridge on your right, do not get on the bridge unless you want to or are asked to cross the border.

    Cashiers Desk is right in front of you when you enter the building in the center. To its right is the Permit room.

    When I reached, I guess officers were having lunch. I told one of the officers that I am here for I-94 extension. After waiting for 10-15 mins they called me in.
    Looked at old passport.
    Asked me if I have paid the fees, I did not so had to go to the cashiers to pay $6 cash.
    Came back to the Permit room, again the officer looked at my old passport.
    Stamped the admit on my old passport along with paper I-94. I asked about the new passport having the stamp and the officer told, I-94 will be for the passport that has visa.
    I got the extension for a month more then my visa validity.

    Thanks to the original author of this post and all other people who shared their experiences.
    Feel free to post questions if you have any, I will try and respond promptly.

    1. SB

      Is there any tips to not being asked to cross the border?
      For example, which words to use? Or at which day or what time of day to go?

      Also, can this be done on weekends at Otay Mesa?

  4. Sagarika

    Hi All,

    I got I-94 updated without crossing the border at Otay mesa today morning 26 June 2020.

    I flew from Oregon to San Diego yesterday, Thursday evening. Since the distance is long, planned a stay at hotel.
    I took vacation package (air+ hotel)from Priceline. I booked hotel Holiday Express Inn at Otay Mesa. I was actually planning to go straight to CBP by uber at night but it was pitch dark and was not sure if they are open. I went directly to Hotel. We started early morning at 6:30am . CBP was walkable from hotel just 15-20 mins.

    As AJ suggested I went directly to right side of CBP to permit room. No one was there. Meanwhile an extremely rude lady officer asked me what do you need? I explained the situation. She raised her voice and said no more H1bs & L1. She dint even allow me to explain.
    Somehow i told her the EO is only for new visa and i have existing visa with stamping. She said she is a supervisor . Still confirm with her boss. I was very upset with her rude behavior.
    Meanwhile she asked me to stand behind , not near her area.
    Just back there is a small window with $6 sign. We asked him if he can update I-94 showed him documents.
    Meanwhile again the rude supervisor came and scolded why are you talking to him . I told you to wait till i talk to my boss. I am the supervisor. Then she told the guy in a window to update my i-94 and left.
    I showed him already paid receipt and he gave me white slip and asked to go near to permit room. No one was there.
    I was standing at the entrance . I was the only one . Again the rude lady supervisor said from far he is coming. He came and was chitchatting with someone for a while. Then asked me to come in. I gave him entire bunch of documents. I-797, payment receipt, paychecks, address proofs. He checked those all. He asked are you on h1b, what is your address . Thats it. He asked my old passport and put a stamp on it. I found it weird that he dint even check my new passport. I told him my old pp expired already . Will it be updated on old passport ? He said since the visa is on old pp , we have to stamp there. I told him but it is expired can you stamp on new passport.He did. Now my both passport have stamp date of next year.
    I asked him when it will be updated online? He said may be by night.
    But it was updated when i was out of permit room under my old passport. My new passport does not show any record on i-94 website.Overall it took 15-20 mins to complete the process at CBP.
    Has everyone got i-94 updated on old passport and new passport not showing any records?

    Hope this helps.

    1. Sagarika

      Forgot to add important note:

      Make sure if you are planning to take uber/Lyft/ taxi , dnt give them CBP Otay mesa address as destination. That way you will cross the border .
      Use this address as a destination

      IHOP : 2390 Roll Dr, San Diego CA, 92154

      Or first bank address. CBP is walkable from there and if you have not paid already plz carry cash.

    2. administrator
      Kumar

      Sagarika,
      Thanks for sharing your experience! It helps many. I sent you an email, if you can expand on this, so that we can publish an article with full experience. Let me know.

  5. Aj

    Update on visit to Otay Mesa today:

    So I went to Otay Mesa port of entry today. I asked officer the process to extend i94. He asked me to cross the bridge and come back to the states. I confirmed with him that I have valid visa and shouldn’t be any issue while coming back to USA. As per officer’s instructions I did cross the bridge and then came back to USA port of entry. The walk from Mexico immigrants office to port of entry is approx. 12 mins. At POE, immigration officer asked me why I am here and I told him the true reason. He let me in and asked me to go to permit room to get the entry stamp and there only they will update your i94. It was a smooth process. I was done within an hour.

    Quick tip: Try going to permit room which is on the right behind the cashier and asked them if they can extend your i94 without crossing the border.

    1. Jay

      Thanks AJ for sharing your experience.

      Was new I-94 given on your new passport ?
      How soon does it reflect online ?
      Did you take uber from Airport ?

        1. Sagarika

          Did you get it updated on old passport?
          Mine is showing I-94 updated on old passport online.No records on new passport

          1. Jay

            I guess expired I-94 needs travel outside the states to get it renewed. But do not take my word for it, do check with an attorney before you do.

          2. administrator
            Kumar

            Shazi,
            No, you should NOT. If you try it and go to CBP office, you can be deported at port of entry as you are not in status. If your I-94 has expired, try to talk to an attorney immediately.

    2. Shazi

      Hi Aj,

      I am on H4 visa . My I – 94 has already expired on Feb 6 . My attorney filed nonprotunc in April and asked me to leave country and come again.
      I lives in SFO . Can I also try this.

    3. Niladri

      Thank you so much for sharing you experience AJ.

      I also read that the SENTRI office can also extend your I94 after passport renewal. Did you consider that (it is in the same building as CBP).

      Did you need to go talk to Mexico border office and get your passport stamped or that was not needed at all?

  6. Jay

    I got go ahead from my attorney to use any port of entry to reenter for I-94 extension.
    Anyone planning to travel from San Jose/San Francisco over next few days ?

    1. Niladri

      Hi Deepak and Jay,

      I am also planing to go but waiting for my passport to arrive.

      If you guys go, please share your experiences.

  7. Jay

    Sharing some info,

    Since Otay Mesa Center phones are not reachable, I did call – CBP: Calexico East Port of Entry. They said they can extend I-94 after you cross the border.
    Don’t know if people have done it there in the past. Any experiences for that center.

  8. Jay

    Hello All,

    I tried calling this number at 5:40 PM and it only says hours of operation in english and Spanish. No options to press 1 or 2 (as mentioned by few readers in the post here). Does it have some timeframe when we can get someone on the call to talk to ?

    I am in the same boat as many others here, I am looking to extend my i-94 which is expiring in Aug first week (Currently I-94 is still not expired). But my Visa Stamp & I-797 is still valid till mid 2021.

    I was planning to go this weekend or next week.

    Looking for feedback some readers who are planning to get it done this week.

    1. Sagarika

      Jay,

      I am trying to call them from two days but looks like they do not have that option anymore to talk. I had talked to them few months back with the same number.

      1. Jay

        Thanks for reply Sagarika.
        may be they stopped picking up calls since many like us were calling.

        I am wondering. Without calling is it advisable to travel this weekend ?

      1. AJ

        Hi Sagarika,

        Are you still planning to go even after your attorney advised not to? Do you know why did your attorney advised so, as you have valid I-94 and valid stamped visa and I-797? Also, EO does state that if you have valid stamped visa you can enter the country.

  9. Ann

    How will the H1B and L1 ban until end of year affect the extension of I94? Will CBP still extend the I94 for those who have future visa expirations, but with a soon to expire I94 date? Would they even allow them to enter back in the US if they crossed the border, just for the purpose of extending I94?

  10. AJ

    Hi,

    I have a valid stamped H1-B visa till 2022. I got I94 valid till August 2020 based on the expiry date of my current passport. Now, I have a renewed passport. Would it impact me if I go to Mexico border CBP office and get I94 updated till 2022? Please advice.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      AJ,
      You should be fine, but I suggest you call the CBP office and confirm, before you travel. Few were able to do it without crossing inside the CBP office, try that option. Do update how it goes with you here for community benefit.

    2. Sagarika

      I just got reply from my attorney Fragomen . They have asked me not to travel and be in US and apply for H1 extension instead.

      1. administrator
        Kumar

        Sagarika,
        Thx for sharing. Yes, that is safer option always in current situations, if your employer is willing to support.

    3. Sagarika

      AJ,

      Can you share your experience once you are done on Thursday? It would really help others who are planning to travel. I am also going on weekend.

  11. Sagarika

    Hello all,

    I am planning to go to Otay Mesa on Friday . I just received new passport.I need urgent info:
    1. Did you all paid online for I-94 before your visit?If yes Can you please share the link?
    2. Did you call before going there? I called their number ending in 7696 but the did not give any option to talk (previously they had option 2)
    3. Is it risky to cross the border after executive order? I have I-797 valid till June 2021, Stamping valid till June 2021. I-94 expiring on Nov 2020. Please reply me at the earliest. Thanks a ton!

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Sagarika,
      Now that we have EO in place, do check before you travel, if they extend without you leaving the country.
      It is good you have stamping valid, but double check with CBP and then plan accordingly. Do update here on how it goes.
      Check here https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/

      1. Sagarika

        They are not picking up the call. The number does not have option to talk with someone. May be they removed it. Will they extend my I-94 as it is still valid till Nov 2020?

        1. administrator
          Kumar

          Sagarika,
          Not sure, read through the comments, there was some info others told. Also, try other CBP offices.

    2. Niladri

      Hi Sagarika,

      I am on a very similar situation as yours. Waiting for my New passport to arrive this week so eagerly waiting to hear your feedback and experience.

      My old Passport expires in Oct 2020 and hence I94 also expires on the same date, I-129S valid till 2022 and Visa Valid till 2024.

      Have you checked the Otay Mesa SENTRI office option? They are in the same building as the CBP from what I heard but they have been closed for a while but I believe they might have opened or will open up soon.

      Also the Executive order is no different from the Executive order already in place and it is mostly extension of the old order as per my knowledge. Hence this should not impact Border I-94 extensions.

      I also plan to travel right after the July 4th weekend or even before that to get my I-94 extended based on your response.

      Thanks and all the best!

  12. JKS

    Thanks to Kumar on the original Post. I followed the steps mentioned in “Option 2: I-94 Extension at US – Mexico Border (CBP Otay Mesa, San Diego)” This post was very helpful!

    I have visited Otay Mesa, CBP on June 7th (Sunday) and successful done with my I-94 extension. I booked same day return flight from Seattle.

    Folks who use Lyft/Uber to get down at FirsBank or Duty Free shop complex at Otay Mesa as you can’t commute by car to the final point of CBP office.

    You need to have the valid stamped visa, I-797, I-94 not expired status to cross over the mexico border through over bridge and come back to CBP office at USA side.

    1. Sagarika

      While i am still waiting for my new passport . My attorney told me not to travel border because new visa restrictions that might be implemented as an executive order. Has anyone received the same?
      Also, Is OTAY MESA crowded over the weekend? Are there any specific times with less rush hour?

  13. bvvr

    Hi VJ,

    I am also in same situation. My I-94 is expiring on july 19th. I am also from Chicago. Can you please tell me how much time it takes to cross the border, return back and get new I94, so that I will plan my flight tickets accordingly.

    1. VJ

      I’ve heard the pedestrian crossing can get busy during peak hours. However, you should be able to get the work done in <1 hours if you go during noon time (non-peak traffic time).

    2. Dhava Karunamurthy

      Hi BVVR,

      I am also in same situation and in Chicago. Let me know if you are open to plan on going the same day.

      1. bvvr

        Dhava Karunamurthy,

        I have done my I94 extension on june 17th without crossing border. I went inside Global Entry / SENTRI Enrollment Center at otay mesa (San Diego) and asked the officer that I came here to extend my I94 document. Initially he suggested to cross the border and come back, but somehow he changed his mind and checked my 2 passports, visa expire date, H1B approval document and asked me to wait for few minutes, he said that he want to talk with his boss. After 2-3 mins of wait he said pay $6 dollars in the counter and next go to permit room. I paid and enter into permit room, here the officer asked few questions like Where are you from? Why did you choose this center? address details?
        he captured my image and finally done my i94 extension

        you cant believe I have done all the work in just 10mins

  14. M

    Thanks for the information, this really helped. We went to Canada border near Vancouver and were able to update the i94 without crossing the border. The officer there was helpful and extended our i94s which were given until my old passport validity.

      1. M

        Nothing specific, regular questions on why we were there, we didnt have to get out of the car. I had called ahead to confirm if they would update.

      2. JKS

        Hi M, Congrats.

        I see you were able to get the I-94 without crossing Canada Border at Vancouver. Do you need a Canadian visitor visa to take U turn at Port of Entry? Plz.

        1. M

          No, you don’t need a Canadian visa. There is a u-turn towards the US before Canada border crossing. Follow Google maps directions to CBP building near peace arch.

  15. Jay Prabhu

    Thank you for the detailed experience and suggestion.

    My wife is on L2 with similar situation, her I-94 expires on Aug 29 and Visa validity is till Nov 2021, I’m near San Francisco and travelling to San Diego tomorrow, I will share our visit details after our visit.

      1. Jay Prabhu

        Thank you for the information, got my spouse I-94 renewed at Otay Mesa CBP, she dint had to cross border CBP officer was very helpful and helped with I-94 renewal.

  16. VJ

    Hello,

    This should help :

    https://redbus2us.com/i-94-extension-with-passport-renewal-in-usa-experience-during-covid-19/

    I followed this link and got my work done. This is from one of the members from this group who got the extension done at Otay Mesa. Scroll down and look for :
    “Below experience is by Manish at Otay Mesa CBP center” . This should answer most of your questions.

  17. Vicky

    Hi Kumar/others,

    I am also in the same boat like everyone here and my i94 is going to expire in first week of Aug.
    Has anyone tried to extend i94 through USCIS OR discussed with your attorneys about it?
    Do you know which application to be filed for extension?

    I consulted my attorney and they said they will file i102. I read about it on USCIS website and nowhere it is mentioned that it could be used for i94 extension but in i129 section it is mentioned. My attorney is not ready to listen to what I read on the USCIS website and he is saying he has lot of experience in filing i129 and it cant be used for filing i94 extension . So I am little worried now.

    I stay in NC and I didn’t want to travel to Mexico or Canada border because of Covid 19. So I don’t want to take that option.

    1. Sagarika

      Hi Vicky,

      My attorney told me there is nothing as such for I-94 extension. If I-94 is expiring so is your h1 (I-797 date /stamping date doesnt matter). They will file H1B extension only.

      1. Vicky

        Hi Sagarika,

        My understanding is also same and for extending i94, i129 is the petition that needs to be filed. But my attorney doesn’t concur to it. He is going to file i102 with below reason in application
        ->I was issued Form i94, with incorrect information, and I am requesting that USCIS correct the document.
        which means this application is for a replacement i94 due to an incorrect information in it. my case don’t fit for this reason. I don’t understand what I should do now as I can see USCIS will be declining my application.

        1. Sagarika

          I am not sure about I-102. Looks like it is replacement/initiate form. You can contact your manager /HR and let them know that attorney is filing incorrect form and intervene if you are sure about it.
          We do not have much details on your case here . Till what date your H1b is valid? did you travel out of country and got i-94 updated to passport expiry?

          1. Vicky

            I have spoken to manager and HR and they believe what attorney is saying. Yes I did travel out of US last year and got i94 till this August because of passport expiry whereas my visa is valid till Dec 2021.

          2. Sagarika

            Vicky, I would highly recommend you to post your queries on another platform too, since most of us here including me in this group are planning to travel to border CBP.
            There is a fb group ‘h4 and h1B visa holders’. You can try other groups .Since you do not have much time left on visa you better get updates soon.

  18. Sagarika

    Hi Vj,

    Which number should i reach at to CBP? I called them at 619-690-7696 .But not sure which option to choose.I could get in touch with sentri global entry officer but i dont think it is the correct option.Can you help with the details? You can also send me email at [email protected]
    My attorny is asking (forcing 🙁 ) me to apply for extension as it is safer option but i really dont want to again go through USCIS processing times unnecessarily .
    Thanks a ton for the help!

    1. VJ

      Yup. That’s the number. You might want to try Option#2 (Passenger Inspection).
      Getting someone on the line is difficult. Getting someone on the line who has knowledge about I94 and the process is tougher. You need to keep trying until the right person, with correct information picks up your call.

      My attorney was forcing me for an extension too, but I just asked for a week’s permission to try out all my options. And during this time I planned my trip to San Diego. I believe things would open up anyways (in about a couple of weeks time). So, if your I94 expiry is not due in next 30-45 days, you might just want to fly down and give it a try. Remember, you can’t do this once your I94 gets expired. So try calling them and plan your trip accordingly.

  19. Sagarika

    I am in the same boat. H1B valid till june 2021 but I-94 expring due to Passport expiring in Nov 2020.
    I live in Oregon and planning to go to Otay Mesa.
    Are they open for in person visit? Also what is permit room in CBP?
    Thanks .Appreciate your responses at the earliest as my attorney is forcing me to apply for extension.

    1. VJ

      CBP Border crossing at Otay Mesa is open, but with limited working hours (I guess its 8am-10pm).
      You may be asked to cross the border and walk back to US from Mexico (depending upon the kind of officer you meet. Some may just extend your I94 without the need to cross over to Mexico.
      The “Permit” room is where you will meet the officer and ask for an I94 extension. This room is located inside the CBP building. I would still highly recommend you to call the CBP center and tell your condition. They will most like tell you the current scenario there (Border Openings, I94 extensions etc.)

    2. Sagarika

      Hi Vj,

      I hv few questions;
      1.Did you go to SENTRI / Global Entry – Otay Mesa Enrollment Centre, 2500 Paseo Internacional, San Diego, CA 92154 ? is that different door in the CBP?
      2. the drive to this address from San Diego airport in google maps shows that it goes through Mexico border. is that the case?I will be taking uber/lyft too.
      2.Also, where did you pay online?

      As you mentioned i called them (option #2) and the person did not have any information.
      I used another option and got connected to Sentri officer. She mentioned i need Sentri number in order to process (might not be the correct one)

  20. Jithendran

    Hi Vijay,

    Many thanks for starting this post and sharing all your experiences. This will really help all the folks who are in a similar situation.

    I just had one question- I was reading somewhere that you can also goto U.S. Customs and Border Protection – San Ysidro Port of Entry (PedWest)
    499 Virginia Ave, San Diego, CA 92173.

    This is different from the “Otay Mesa CBP” located at U.S. Customs and Border Protection – Otay Mesa Port of Entry, 9777 Via de la Amistad, San Diego, CA 92154.
    I believe you went to this place.

    Did you hear about the Pedwest center and is that also a valid place to go?
    Looks like both the offices might be closed for in-person visits. You mentioned you need to reach the “Permit” room of Otay Mesa CBP center. Where is that located

    1. VJ

      Hey Jithendran,

      The reason I preferred Otay Mesa over the other option in SD was because, I had read about some folks from this community who successfully got their job done there (with current COVID restrictions in place). Not many stories about San Ysidro Port of Entry. Also they are hardly 30 miles apart (if I remember). So its just a matter of choice.

      The “Permit” room is where you get your finger prints etc. done. It is located inside the CBP building towards the right (when you enter from US). That’s the room you will eventually go to get your job done.

  21. Amit

    Hi Vijay,

    Thanks for the post.
    I thought the current travel restrictions in place at Mexico border restrict entry to essential travel and US citizens. I am in same situation but apprehensive as I am not sure they would allow me to enter back in US. Would this travel be allowed under current border travel restrictions?

    https://mx.usembassy.gov/travel-restrictions-fact-sheet/

    Thanks

    1. VJ

      Travel across the border is certainly restricted/ not completely blocked, and hence the reduced hours of Border operation. Some of us from this forum could still travel and get our work done. People were still crossing the borders – Both on foot and by car, albeit in reduced numbers.
      To be honest, I just had to give it a shot , with not much options left for me. Just make sure you speak to the CBP folks at US side before crossing over. Not that they will guarantee to take you in, but just that talking to them gives a little more assurance I would say.

  22. Kshitiz

    Hello Vijay/Kumar,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with us !
    When we get I797 for H1 extension, I94 is attached alongwith. Is it not good enough to claim the I94 validity?
    In my case, I have an I94 (Attacched to I797) with validiy until 2022, however when I go to cbp website, I94 still says validity based on my last H1 i.e. Sep 2020. I, infact, crossed border from Canada earlier this year, but that was not reflected in online I94.
    In your opinion, will it be a problem?
    Thank you so much !

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Kshitiz,
      Usually, when you get the paper I-94 from USCIS, that one cannot be verified on the I-94 website of CBP as they are different. So, that’s normal.
      If you crossed the border and used the USCIS paper I-94 ( assuming you used automatic revalidation), I am not sure, how this would work. Call or email the CBP to be sure and get their inputs. do update here on the same for community benefit.
      But, in general, your Paper I-94 issued by USCIS cannot be verified on CBP site.

  23. RAM

    Hello Kumar,
    thank you for providing detailed information on the process to get I-94 updated. I am in the same situation and wondering why you didn’t try Laredo, Tx instead of san Diego one. Any reason?. It would be helpful to plan my trip.

    1. VJ

      Nothing particular. I wasn’t getting direct flights from Chicago to Laredo. The layover time at Dallas was more than 3 hours (which I dint want). Hence decided to go to San Diego. Also, having read about successful attempts at SD gave me a little extra confidence to go there. Haven’t heard about such stories from TX, especially during the COVID-19 period. Hope this helps!

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