Home » US Immigration - Visas » I-94 Extension in US at CBP Otay Mesa – 6 Experiences

I-94 Extension in US at CBP Otay Mesa – 6 Experiences

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.  Also, other users like Ravs, Manny, anonymous also got their I-94 extended. Thanks to Vijay, Ravs, Manny and anonymous user 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 redbus2us@gmail.com

Best time to go to Otay Mesa for I-94 Extension ?

If you are planning a trip to Otay Mesa to extend I-94, we suggest you go late in the afternoon as the foot traffic is less. See below screenshot for a typical day on how much wait time you have for passenger foot traffic. You can check Otay Mesa Passenger Traffic CBP

CBP Wait Times at Otay Mesa CBP Office

Crossing US Mexico Border – Get back to US Side [Photos]

If you cross the US – Mexico Border at Otay Mesa, there are high changes that you may have challenges to find the way back to US side. For some users it took like 30 mins to figure out how to get back. The fact is there isn’t any signage, so may get lost and keep walking up and down few times before you figure out where you would see the turnstile at first. Below is some guidance shared by our users with pictures. Thanks to our users !

In below image, Location 1 is the Mexican side where you will exit out, cross the road (arrow) and head north and when you reach end of walkway around Location 2 in picture is where the gate/turnstile is that will let you cross over to the pedestrian line for CBP Otay Mesa building.

US Mexico Border - How to enter US side gate
How to cross from Mexican Side to Enter US CBP Office

The queue can be long at times. Some users said there were like 500 people one time. So, plan it and be prepared. Below are some additional pictures from the Mexico Side. Thanks to Yash for sharing below.

Otay mesa Border Mexico Side Pictures of Immigraiton Line
Pictures from the Mexico Side at Otay Mesa when you cross the Border – enter US Side CBP

I-94 Extension Experience for H1B – Oct 2022

Date: 29th October 2022

  • Today after crossing the border in the morning at Otay Mesa we were able to get our I94 extended.

We crossed the border to Mexico via the Otay Mesa pedestrian crossing. In Mexico, they asked us to walk through after checking our stamped US visas. We joined the line to enter the US after jaywalking across the road. We had to wait for about an hour in line.

Advice from our Attorney for I-94 Extension:

I had heard back from our attorneys by then and they gave us the following options. These are some options to consider as you reattempt to extend your spouse’s I-94:

 Option 1: If the officer refuses to extend the I-94, politely ask to speak with a supervisor. A supervisor should understand that the I-94 for your spouse can be extended on the basis of the H-1B approval.

 Option 2: Cross the border and return to the U.S. by air. CBP at airports are more predictable and consistent and would likely extend I-94.

We reached the customs immigration check and the officers immediately denied extending the I94 but they were receptive to engaging in a conversation and were very helpful.

One of the officers mentioned if they extended the I94 and my spouse’s H4 approval was rejected it mean they could stay illegally in the country. They were nice enough to bring in a supervisor who knew details of why we were trying to extend the I94 and why ppl were coming to extend the I94 at the land border. They then extended our I94.

Thanks to all the information on this group it really helped up. In hindsight we should’ve just flown into Mexico and returned back via air since it seems more straightforward

I-94 renewal for L1 visa with border crossing, April 2021


Let me preface this with the obvious – every case is unique and what worked for me might not work for you. Talk to an immigration lawyer if you’re unsure. I went to Otay Mesa the first week of April 2021 to renew my I-94. I’m on an L1B visa. I decided to go to the border instead of going to a US Consulate in my home country to minimize the COVID-19 risk. For the same reason I didn’t want to fly to Mexico and instead I decided to drive there and cross the border on foot.

Getting there

My boyfriend and I drove from San Francisco to San Diego and stayed there in a hotel for a night. The next day we parked at a Starbucks which is a few mins walk from the land crossing and I headed (alone) to the bridge. I decided to not go to the CBP office and headed straight to  the pedestrian crossing.

Mexico Side

I walked up the stairs to the bridge and noticed a sculpture showing a man and a woman dancing. Without looking closely at it, I stopped to take a picture and then heard some woman’s voice behind me. 

Fiesta Jarabe - Mexico Border Otay Mesa
Fiesta Jarabe – Mexico Border Otay Mesa

I didn’t hear it properly and thought she perhaps said that I should not be taking the picture, so I apologized. She repeated “No, I was just saying that they are ugly. We don’t look like that!” She explained the controversy around the sculpture to me and we started walking together over the bridge. She asked me where I was from and what was bringing me to Tijuana. I responded that I needed to renew my papers for the US visa and for that I had to cross the border. She seemed surprised that I decided to walk alone to Tijuana. She explained to me that it’s not a very safe place in general. Many people from Mexico come to Tijuana because they think there’s quick money there, but a lot of them are unable to cross the border and they end up staying in Tijuana and getting into shady businesses, so the crime rate is pretty high. She advised me to not talk to anyone and offered to help me get through the Mexico immigration and show me the way back to the US side. I wasn’t sure if I should take the offer (what if later she just demands some huge money for her services or gets me in trouble at immigration?), but my gut feeling was telling me that it was simply an act of women’s solidarity and kindness.

She was concerned that since it’s the Easter weekend, it might be hard to find someone at the immigration on the Mexico side. After we went through the turnstiles, she asked (in Spanish) someone who looked like an immigration officer and we were pointed to the second building on the right (there was nobody in the first one). Without me saying anything, she walked up to the first officer she saw there and in quick Spanish explained my situation. I mean, I thought that’s what she did, I don’t really know any Spanish!

I was asked for my passport and was given an arrival card to fill out. There was a bit of confusion before I realized they needed my old passport too to see my US visa. My guide kept talking to the officer in Spanish and I had no clue what she was talking about. I was half way through the immigration card, but then the officer took it from me and started filling it out by himself. My guide was waiting for me at the exit. I got my passports back, together with the stamp and the FMM (Mexican Tourist Card). Later, my guide explained to me that the $30 is “kind of legit”. However, it should only be charged if a person intends to stay in the country for more than 7 days (also see page 6 from a document on the Mexican government website) My guide’s frantic conversation with the officer earlier was her making sure that they wouldn’t charge me for the permit 🙂 So the pro tip here is to insist that you are only visiting for one day and that’s why they should not charge you. It’s probably easier if you know some Spanish.

Back to the US

I followed my guide through a door in a glass wall and soon we were walking on the sidewalk which was fenced off on both sides (mentioned by another person earlier). Once we were out of that sidewalk we crossed the street there and then walked through a passage between the buildings. Then we crossed a small parking and a street once again, but only one part of it, so that I ended up on some sort of a wide median. The guide’s brother arrived to pick her up, so she explained to me that I should just keep walking along the median towards the US and then the road will slightly turn to the left and there will be a roofed sidewalk on the right hand side. I’m not sure if I remember the details correctly, but my path looked something like the one I drew below. Oh, BTW, don’t rely on Google Street View, some streets haven’t been updated since 2007, but a lot has changed since then (satellite view is fine though!).

Bride Mexico Immigration Route - Otay Mesa for I-94 Extension
Bride Mexico Immigration Route – Otay Mesa for I-94 Extension

I got to the roofed sidewalk, there was a little bit of a line, so I had to wait. I was concerned about Covid risk as there were some people without masks or wearing them incorrectly. There were street beggars, people selling snacks, people break-dancing or singing for money. The worst moment was when I had to stand in front of two women singing (without masks) at the top of their lungs. Sidenote, they were horrible at singing and I even had a thought to pay them so that they would stop singing. 

After 20-30 mins I reached a CBP checkpoint where a few officers were briefly checking everyone’s documents. Since I had two passports (old and new) and a stack of papers, I was asked to step to the side and they asked me a few questions (where do you work? where do you live? why are you crossing the border?). Then I got into the building and talked to an immigration officer. She looked at my passports, while I explained that I was there to renew my I-94. She asked me to remove my face shield, mask and glasses and took a picture. Then she asked me to go to the PERMITS room. There was a bit of confusion because initially she wanted me to go to the cashier window, but I already paid online, so the cashier didn’t know why I came there. 

Anyway, in the PERMITS room another CBP officer requested my passports, I-129S, verification of employment (I provided a letter from my employer) and a proof of address (he wasn’t enthused about my bank correspondence, but gladly accepted my driver’s license). The whole process took a while, he went out to maybe ask someone, took another photo or two of me (again, I had to remove everything from my face) and finally produced a card that looked like a paper I-94. I glanced at it and spotted a mistake – a wrong type of visa. After I politely pointed it out to the officer, he realized the system doesn’t support corrections and he had to follow the same process (address, photo, fingerprints etc.) again to fix the error. I was granted what’s called a rolling I-94, which is an I-94 that has a duration of the smallest of max visa validity and the default 3 yrs period. Alternatively, the officer could have decided to cut it to the date the I-129S is valid for. It’s the officer’s discretion which option they decide to choose. What’s worth remembering is that if you decide to go abroad after your I-129S expires, then you’ll have to go to a US Consulate abroad to extend the visa there before coming back to the States.
Hope that helps, wishing everyone luck with their I-94 renewal!

I-94 Extension Experience 2 – San Diego, CA for H4 EAD

Anonymous users experience from August last week 2020

Background : We are on H1B and H4 Visas. My wife needed to update her I-94 after passport renewal, she is on H4 with EAD and we needed the new I-94 for EAD renewal. We also live in San Diego so fortunately didn’t need to fly or travel long to the Mexico Border, it is just 20 mins away.

After reading the blogs and experiences in RedBus we were pretty confident and clear on the process since everyone else had shared vivid details of the experience. I wanted to share some unique experiences applicable for H4 – EAD applicants.

Called San Ysidro CBP office

Initially, we called the San Ysidro border CBP office and presented the issue to them, they mentioned that we can cross the border into Mexico and turn back into the US and they can update the I-94 after that. We were a bit worried about crossing the border due to the Covid situation. I also read the other experiences of people crossing at Otay Mesa without much issues and we decided to give it a shot.

Driving to Otay Mesa, Parking, Directions

I parked my car at Plaza Parking 2489 Roll Dr San Diego CA. The walk to the CBP office is about 2 mins from the parking lot. There is a McDonalds across the street and a couple of small shopping plazas with 7-11 type stores next to the parking lots.

We walked straight down Roll Dr and you pass the bridge where you can walk into Mexico on the right. Once you reach the end of this road, there is an office building, SENTRI office to the right (currently closed) and a passageway on the left leading to the CBP office. We walked straight into the CBP office and there is a permits office with a blue sign on the right side once you enter the building. We waited in front of the office and within 10s an officer came by to ask what we wanted.

Talking to CBP officer before Crossing Border

My wife mentioned she wanted to get her I-94 updated due to a passport renewal. He understood the issue and said we would need to go over into Mexico and come back. We then asked if there are any travel or entry restrictions due to covid situation and that we are both in H status. The officer went inside the permits room to check with another officer, they chatted for a minute and he came back and said there shouldn’t be any issues. He mentioned that he will remember us and if we came back from border crossing before 2pm (presumably his work-shift) he can take care of it.

Crossing US Mexico Border – No Stamps in Mexico Side

So we went back out and over the bridge, walked into the Mexican side. In the inspection area, someone took our temperature and let us in. At the counter they asked where we are going and we mentioned we just want to get back to US for I-94 update. They just scanned our passports and let us in.

I remember reading in some other posts that the Mexican authorities asked for $30 fee when entering, we did not face this. They also didn’t stamp our passports- so I guess there is no record of us coming into Mexico.

Once you clear the entry, you walk down a long sidewalk closed on both sides, that leads into a wide road. This is where vehicles would wait in line for entry into US, it was empty now due to Covid, I assume. We turned back and walked for another 2 mins when you see the passage on your right for the pedestrian crossing. This is where you see a lot of local stores/vendors selling snacks and playing Mariachi music etc.

After entering US CBP Office – Process for I-94 Extension

Once we got back to the border, the US border agent scanned our passport and asked the purpose of the visit. We mentioned about I-94 and he asked why we went into Mexico. We told it was the procedure and were asked to do this. By this time, the other officer from earlier signaled and we were asked to go over to him.

We had already paid the I-94 fee online. The officer checked my wife’s documents, asked for passport and took us into the permits room. Asked where she worked. No other questions were asked. New paper I-94 was issued and we were done.

The whole experience took us about 25 mins, which is really short but I think it was due to the Covid situation. There were about 4 people in the line for pedestrian crossing back into US. The officers were really helpful and polite and they understood the procedure which was great.

Couple of things are noteworthy:

  • No fees paid at the Mexico border and no passport stamps, we went on a Sunday
  • My wife needed the I-94, I was just accompanying her. I actually did NOT get a passport stamp after entering back into the US either. So no record of me having ever been there.
  • No apparent travel restriction for spouses if the other spouse needs to update I-94 and cross the border.

Overall it was a smooth experience, I recommend carrying all your paperwork to make it easy for the officers. Including address proof, I-797, online fee payment, pay stubs etc although we were not asked for anything except passport. Also I recommend explaining your intention clearly to the officer and confirming travel restrictions for your visa status.

I-94 Extension Experience 3 – Milpitas to Otay Mesa

Experience by Ravs from end of July 2020

Background for I-94 Extension

I have consulted my attorney about the possibilities of extending my i94, have a valid visa and extension too.

  1. Call near by cbp offices and see if they can help
  2. Walk in near by cbp offices and see if things work out
  3. Cross the border

I live in milpitas, tried calling all the California CBP offices where they said either make an exit and comeback or reach out to uscis ( i was not able to succeed by calling them)

Walk-in experiences CBP SFO, San Jose

I have tried visiting near by CBP offices (San Jose, San Francisco). I was told offices are closed due to COVID-19 and they are working from home. So I have emailed all the CBP offices around USA and their normal template response is make an exit and come back.

Otay mesa experience I-94 Extension Process

I took all my documents (most recent i94, paid my fee online, address proofs, w2’s, payslips, i-797 docs and offer letter just in case). Drove from Milpitas, CA to San Diego and walked into the CBP office. I arrived at CBP office by 7.00 am, thought office will be less occupied and can get things done pretty quickly.

I walked into permit room and officer asked me the reason why I was there ?? I explained the situation and I was told to get back to the payment booth first. I walked near the payment booth where a friendly officer approached me and looked at all my documents and asked me to cross the border.
So I walked into Mexico.

Mexican authorities asked me pay to 30$ (which is his tip I guess) asked me bunch of questions like whether I am going to stay in USA ( I thought he is crazy not bothered to answer) walked out of the Mexican office and crossed the road back to USA CBP office. I was shell shocked by the queue at morning (350 people are standing in the queue and 70% are not wearing any masks) after waiting for 1.5 hrs in the queue finally entered into CBP office.

CBP Officer Questions for I-94 Extension

Once I have entered CBP office they recognised me since I presented and explained the docs before. I was allowed to go to permit room. This is where the fun starts:

  • Officer: what are we doing now here ?
  • Me: i94 extension since my passport is about to expire in couple of days and i have valid visa and passport.
  • Officer: give me your passport
  • Me: i have provided my fee payment receipt along with the passport
  • Officer: you’re saying your passport is going to expire on 08/01 but your passport was already expired (01/08)
  • Me: that’s how we write dates on passport (dd/mm/yyyy)
  • Officer:gotcha, you have two valid visa’s you should cancel one
  • Me: I said okay
  • Officer: you have valid i94 in your passport which was given till end of your visa why you need i94 extension
  • Me: nope, that’s the stamp when I first entered after my visa stamped. You have to check most recent i94 and gave him the document
  • Officer: where do you need the i94 stamped in the old passport or the new one
  • Me: i said both
  • Officer: i can provide only one stamp
  • Me: i said i am not sure
  • Officer: okay i will give that in old passport
  • Officer: what you do for living
  • Me: software engineer
  • Officer: address please
  • Me: gave him the address proof
  • Officer: please verify if everything is fine now in your i-94
  • Me: verified and confirmed all good

I have walked out. One suggestion is if you are planning to visit San Diego Mexico border just try to be there by afternoon you will less traffic and of possible wear N-95 mask and have hand sanitizer ready up the sleeve

I-94 Extension Experience 4 – Los Angeles to Otay Mesa

Experience 2 by Anonymous User from July 2020

Background for I-94 Extension:

After being struck for 10 months in India in 2019, I got my Visa Approved in and arrived to US in November 2019 and here My I-94 was given till 19th July, 2020 (Tied to the expiry date of my old passport). (My Employer suggested me to apply for passport renewal in US instead of India as we don’t want to risk further and come back to USA ASAP). I hold an H1B Visa, valid until Aug 2021

My Options to get I-94 Extension

With COVID-19, I had the below  3 options for I-94 Extension after Passport Renewal in US.

  1. Call CBP Office near to me (LAX Airport and Long Beach Sea CBP Office).
  2. Applying for an H1B extension.
  3. Crossing the Mexico land border and re-entering the United States. (Suggested by Employer).

Below are the things I tried with all three options for I-94 update.

  • Option 1 : I tried Option 1, called LAX CBP Office. They referred to Deferred Office and they said that they can only correct i94 mistakes and cannot extend/update it. They suggested to contact USCIS and apply for I-129 form if I dont want to travel outside US during COVID-19 Pandemic, but for my case, they suggested to apply for H1B Extension.
  • Option 2 : Since I had more than 13 months of VISA validity left, and a renewed passport in my hand and I dont want to risk with my client (took 6 letters in 2 years) and H1B application again.

As I had no luck with above two options, my fall back option was to cross US Border.

Planning to Update I-94 in US by Crossing Border

Please note I had called the CBP offices LAX Airport, Land border (San Ysidro, CA) as well as Sea (Long Beach, CA) and explained my situation. One Officer(Long Beach CBP Office) is kind enough to suggested based on my client (I was given essential work certificate back in March 2020) to try with nearest land borders with Mexico as I stay in Los Angeles, CA.

Address nearest to CBP Otay Mesa Center, Parking

  • First Bank for CBP Office  : 2494 Roll Dr, San Diego, CA 92154
  • 24 hrs Parking is available at Plaza Parking, $5 for 2 hours, $10 weekdays and $15 weekends for 24 hours.

As I wanted to go at Lunch time to escape lines, I drove to San Diego from Los Angeles late morning 10:30 AM and reached the Otay Mesa Center by 1:00 PM.

Process to Update I-94 at CBP office at Otay Mesa

I tried to reach “Permits” Room but one of the CBP Officer advised to Cross US and Mexico Border, they were not ready to update my I-94. He 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.

Crossing US and Mexico Border

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, and asked for cash only $30 or 600 Mexican pesos to stamped it.

I was not aware of this fee and I carried only $20 cash with me, they showed me nearby ATM but it was out-of-order. They discuss for 2 minutes in Spanish and showed me the way out without stamping my passport.

There is no help from any of the Mexican authorities as there are no boards or anything to guide the way, took me 30 minutes to figure out. (Knowing Spanish might help here)

I took a U-turn and started walking towards the US.  There’s a pre-check at the gate to the US, Police verified my Passport and Visa Stamped page and let me in, then there is another gate to the POE CBP officers same as in the airports.

Questions asked by CBP officer during entry:

  • Why are you here? for I-94 Extension.
  • Where do you work? xxxx in Los Angeles, CA.
  • Show me your Visa. Showed my I-797 Approval Notice.

 Next, I was taken to “Permit” Room where another officer was handed over my passport with a “yellow note” attached.

Another CBP Interview – Questions

  • Where are you from? (Not interested in taking India as answer) Los Angeles.
  • Why are you here? I-94 Extension
  • Where do you work ? Los Angeles.
  • You came here based on Internet Blogs? No.
  • Why Otay Mesa? Why didn’t you go to San Ysidro Center? I did call San Ysidro Center after CBP Office at LAX asked me to cross border and they suggested Otay Mesa Center as Pedestrian Traffic is less here.

Took my Passports (old and new), I-797, Old I-94 and Online $6 Payment Receipt.

Biometrics were taken, and then my old passport was stamped with “Admitted” stamp until the end of my VISA validity.

I was given white slip of I-94 with extended date attached to my old passport. Thanked Officer and came outside of CBP Otay Mesa Office by 3:00 PM.

Important Notes, Tips

  • Make sure to carry all the supporting documents like Pay slips, Residency Proof etc.
  • Cary some extra cash like 50 USD, in case you need it on the other side.
  • Online I-94 Fee Payment: I paid the fees for I94 update form online ($6), valid for 7days after payment, cutoff my waiting time in Permits room by 15-20 minutes.
  • Face masks are compulsory. Carry your own pocket hand sanitizer.
  • Carry your own water bottle as it is super hot and dehydrating.

I checked my I-94 online along with travel history it shows Arrival Record from Otay Mesa. It did not show any departure record as Mexico Immigration did not stamp anything.? Meaning, I got my I-94 extended without crossing border but in fact I did crossed border.

I-94 Extension Experience 5 – Oakland to Otay Mesa

Experience 2 from Manny – July end 2020

Background of I-94 Extension

Thanks to all who contributed their story of i94 extension during the covid19 pandemic and the Executive Order issued on 6/22/2020. It really helps a lot of people so here is my story. I did go from Bay area to San Diego for this purpose.

Flying to San Diego, Stay overnight

I like driving however Southwest offered $99.99 from OAK to SAN with Return, so Why not. Flew after work during weekday, stayed overnight at Otay Mesa Holiday inn which is super close to the CBP office Otay Mesa < 5 min drive. Next day in the morning, drove and Parked at Plaza Parking ($10) at about 8:30 AM.

Process at CBP Otay Mesa – Permit Room

Process at CBP Office Visited Otay Mesa CBP office and stood near i94 Permit window as all suggested. Main Head of the CBP officer asked me the reason for my visit, I explained the reason due to Passport expiry, H1b valid until 2021….etc, he asked me to cross the border and then get back in. (In my mind….damn it…) But I guess if I would be doing that job, I would not stamp anyone without re-entering the USA. And honestly speaking, I think it’s better that way for even us since you are officially leaving the USA and then entering legally from Mexico …..with lots of other amigos standing in a line listening to various Spanish music by the street artists along the way while waiting.. 😉

Crossing Bridge – Process on Mexico Side

Crossed the bridge as they suggested, and in less than 5 mins of walk I was in Mexico territory, I was sweating due to both slight fear and humidity. I entered CBP building at Mexico side (thank God Google on my phone didn’t shout out loud “Welcome to Mexico”). Told lady officer that I wanted to go back to USA, she introduced me to this Male border officer who had his own cabin, he asked me to fill out custom form, etc. I filled out the form with new Passport number, signed at the bottom and then……… that sweet $30 bucks request was made. Obviously I didn’t ask for an explanation and played dumb. I happily paid him the amount. I kept that ready to go actually…… And I don’t care if it goes to his pocket or to the Govt registry. By the way it Instantly reminded me of India. 😉

Continued going forward, I started seeing lots of cars lined up to enter into the USA. First few lanes are regular car lanes and then there is a sentri car lanes which runs faster. Crossed both the lanes and then started going towards USA entry point. There is a small opening to go towards the pedestrian border crossing line from the cars lanes. Was able to find a line for which the end wasn’t too far luckily. Due to covid19 they let people go in batches. Stayed in the line for about 40 mins (now it’s about 10 AM) or so and enjoyed Spanish music artists, and stuff while waiting.

Process at CBP office after entering US Side

Now with the CBP Officer (at about 10:40 AM), looked at my passport, visa, i797. I explained my situation. He asked me go and wait in the same line where I initially went, The i-94 Permit window. It was kept closed for about 30 mins. After some time, one CBP officer came, and took care of my request. Got i94 extension done successfully. Simple general questions on the job, residence address, etc. Didn’t ask for any other documents other than the usual stuff i.e. passport, i797, old i94, receipt for online i94 Extension payment. Took a photo, fingerprint, and issued new paper i94 with extended validity.

So now my passport has Mexico Entry date, USA Leaving date and US entry date with updated i94. All done complying with all the legal stuff. I would have been little hesitant if my passport wouldn’t show an entry to the Mexico.

I would highly recommend anyone who is in a similar situation to go to the CBP office at Otay Mesa and get your i94 extended. Overall the experience was fine. Officers were aware of such circumstances and were very helpful.

I-94 Extension Experience 6 – Chicago to Otay Mesa

Experience 3 from Vijay from May 2020

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 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!

Experience 7 : I-94 Extension by Crossing Border[Oct 2020]

Thanks to our reader Diganto for sharing it with the community in the Telegram group

  • I got my I-94 extended on October 9th, 2020 at Otay Mesa. Reached Otay Mesa CBP 10:30 am.
  • Parking : It’s all paid parking over there. But Sunday’s the parking lots are all empty so could have parked there but I opted the paid parking.
  • At CBP office, at the entrance there is a booth, lady officer asked to go to Mexico and come back otherwise no I-94 updates.
  • Crossing Border : Came out, took the bridge , passed two revolving gates , enter into Mexico. There were immigration officers there. Officer asked me to show passport and purpose of visit, explained the same.
  • Paid 30$: They asked me to fill up the immigration form and 600 Pesos/30$ for permit stamp.They stamped my passport and gave a permit for 6 months. Went outside their office, walked for a while, you can easily cross the street and see people in queue to enter into US. There 3-4 people ahead of me.
  • I-94 Extension : Entered the port of entry, officer asked me purpose of visit and where did I work, When was the last time I went outside the US. Took me inside the permit room.
  • There he asked me to show my residence proof and some letter of employment. Driving license and client letter were good enough for me.
  • Stamped my old passport, within 30 mins I could see updated I94. Came out of CBP office around 12pm.
  • Overall a hassle free process.

Other Articles


  1. Thanks to all on this forum for sharing their experience. I and my wife were able to cross over the pedestrian bridge in Otay Mesa on 06 Oct 2022 and had our I-94 extended till end of my L1 visa. Initially the CBP officer was not ready to extend as I had 3 more months for my I-94 expiry, I persuaded that I had driven all the way from Phoenix and would have to do that again in few more months and this paid and the officer issued me fresh I-94.
    Please note I did not have any stamping in Mexico for crossing over the bridge.

  2. Hi All,

    First of all thanks to all the contributors in this forum. The information shared is very useful. I need some help here that I have a scenario that my H1b and my family’s H4 visa is expiring on 4th Jan 2023 and my son’s I-94 is expiring on 15th November 2023 due to passport expiry while rest have 10th October 2024. I just need to update my son’s I-94 on new passport which will be issued in November 2022. Can I go in December to update I-94 through this route?

  3. Thanks to Redbus2us.com and people who posted the comments. My wife tried for I94 update with my latest I-797 date at San Diego border. First time officer not updated I94 even she crossed the boarder but second time(next day) CBP officer updated I-94 with my I-797 date. So don’t lose the hope by checking with one officer and one border.

    • Did you check the I94 Admission Record Number is it New ?

      Assuming you have active H4 extension Application , Am hearing given you crossed border and got new updated I94 the previous Active H4 extension application may get denied , Keep an eye on that , Not sure what is the process to get that rectified.

    • Hi Laxman, can you please exactly share the location where your wife has landed to get I94 extension done? Is it in Otay Mesa pedestrian crossing ?How long it took? . Could you please share the experience

  4. Hello All,

    My i-94 expires with my passport on July 2022.
    My H1B visa is valid till November 2022.

    Can I have my i-94 extended by crossing the border in March 2022? Which is more than 3 months before expiry? I have heard CBP officers do not extend if i-94 is still valid for 3 months.

    Please let me know if anyone has tried this.

    • Ejaz,
      If you have a new passport, you can give it a try. It is a hit and a miss. But, if you fly out of the country and re-enter they will have to give it to you. But, the trick is you need valid visa or need to use Automatic Visa Revalidation(AVR)

  5. Has anyone extended the I-94 at Otay Mesa this month without crossing the border? Am on E2 visa is this classed as essential work? (Just in case have to cross border) Also am in vaccinated will this cause issue on enter the US?

      • Did you check the I94 Admission Record Number is it New ?

        Assuming you have active H4 extension Application , Am hearing given you crossed border and got new updated I94 the previous Active H4 extension application may get denied , Keep an eye on that , Not sure what is the process to get that rectified.

  6. I work for CBP and I am of Indian origin, I am reading all your comments here and feel you all have been inconvenienced due to Covid situation. It is safe to assume that you all have figured out how to get the I-94 stamped at both Otay and San Ysidro Port of Entry. However, you can do that any other Port of Entry along the Southern border. And even better if you just fly to Mexico and fly back into US the procedure is the same rather much safer and less hectic. The airport CBP officer will stamp your I-94 electronically instead of what you all did in person at the land border.

    • Thanks , If i may ask

      I am on H1b and recently got h1b renewed and have new I797 valid till 2025
      My spouse H4/EAD applied but stuck in processing and may take longer , Her I94 expires in August 2022.

      I stay in San Diego and planning to visit CBP office to get my spouse H4 I94 extended so she can continue to work,I plan to accompany my spouse as well give am primary applicant and i assume we should be able to get I94 extended matching my new I797 for my spouse by following the process outlined of paying the Fees , with/without crossing border as instructed and immigration interview , biometrics and documents verified?

  7. Hello ,
    Has any one tried recently to cross border and get I-94 updation ? I am not sure to cross border as there is a Ban on non essential travel till 21st June because of Covid. Could you please provide any contact details for this cbp office. I tried calling them but no body answered the call.


    • Jordan,
      This has been the case for many months with Mexico. Many were able to get it done. Try emailing them or calling them again to confirm.

  8. Hi Kumar,

    Anyone tried getting H4 I-94 extension based on approved H1B I797 by entering Mexico and immediately turning back to enter US?

    My wife is on H4 visa and her I-94 is valid until May 2021. Her H4 visa stamp is valid until June 2021.
    I just received H1 extension (approved I797 for H1B) till 2023. We did not apply for H4 extension for my wife.
    Can she use my approved I797 H1 extension, and get I-94 extended till 2023? Can we get H4 I94 extended beyond the H4 Visa Stamp Date?


      • Hi, please let me know if you have tried H4 i94 extended based on H1 I 797 at Mexico border ? What all documents besides passport, H1 I797 do we need to carry. Do we both need to cross the land border and come back to US ?

  9. Hi Kumar,
    Anyone tried Automatic Visa Revalidation by entering Mexico and immediately turning back to enter US?
    My wife is on H4 visa and her I-94 is valid until May 2021. Her H4 visa stamp is expired.
    I just received H1 extension (approved I797 for H1B) till 2023. We did not apply for H4 extension for my wife.
    Can she use my approved I797 H1 extension, and get I-94 extended till 2023 based on Automatic Visa Revalidation?


    • Sampad,
      I have not see anyone use the AVR option. If the H4 visa stamp is expired, it can be slightly tricky…
      I am not sure, how this would work. We have no data. Discuss with your attorney before you pursue this route.
      Do update your status after you discuss for community benefit.

  10. My I-94 is expiring in February 2021 due to passport expiration. I entered the US previously on H-1B with have a valid visa stamp until August 2021. However, I changed my job in February and have a new I-797 until 2023. Since I didn’t travel this year due to the pandemic, I don’t have a new H-1B visa stamp on my passport from my new employer. Since my previous H-1B visa stamp is still valid, do you know if I would face any problems at the US CBP office or if I need to cross the border and return, would there by any problems at the POE due to not having a new visa stamp from my new employer?
    Thank you so much for your help. All the posts in this thread were extremely helpful!

    • Rajat,
      As long as you have valid I-94 you are fine. you do not need to have the valid visa stamp. If you check your new I-797 that is valid until 2023, it should have an I-94 attached to it. That is sufficient, you do not need visa stamp to be valid. Read US visa vs Status in US

      • Hello Kumar,
        Thank you so much for your response. Does that mean I don’t have to get my online I-94 extended to match the expiration date on my new I-797? If I do try to get my online I-94 extended at Otay Mesa, and the CBP officer tells me to cross the border and re-enter, do you think I will have an issue to re-enter?

  11. Hi,

    I went to San Diego Otay Mesa CBP office on Dec 7th 2020 with my kid and got my kid’s I-94 renewed without crossing the border. The CBP officers were really very helpful and understand my situation. This thread really helped me with the directions and steps required to get the work done. Thanks a lot!

  12. My wife’s i94 was updated as per my I797 to a later date. We went yesterday to Otay Mesa border. Process was very smooth. Officers were very helpful guiding us through the process. Just get your documents right and you should get your i94 update done without any issue

    Documents we carried:
    Passports with VISA not expiring until Sept 2021
    Latest I797 along with the old I797s
    Address Proof
    Pay Stubs and W2s

    Enter the building and check with any officer that you are there for an I94 update
    Pay your I94 update fee online not to have any hassle and to save time for you or the officers during this covid time.

  13. My son’s passport renewed in 2019 and his I94 expired with his old passport. His old passport has valid h4 visa stamping till 2021 May 31st.

    My company attorney suggested us to send him to cross the boarder to update i94 till may31st 2021 on his new passport.
    He is 19 years old. I am Sending him to San Diego to cross Otay mesa boarder.on 2nd December.

    What should he say when he goes to US Port port of entry and at mexican port

    Any cautious does he need . I am sending him alone. Hence request your suggestions. Thank you.

    • My wife’s i94 was updated as per my I797 to a later date. We went yesterday to Otay Mesa border. Process was very smooth. Officers were very helpful guiding us through the process.

      Enter the building and check with any officer that you are there for an I94 update
      Pay your I94 update fee online not to have any hassle and to save time for you or the officers during this covid time.

  14. My i94 expired couple of months back based on my old passport expiry date. But I have a valid i797 valid for 2 years and updated passport now. Can I travel to border now and get my i94 extended? (since I’m out of status because of i94 expiry)

    • shashank,
      No, you are already out of status. If you go to CBP they can deport you. Talk to an attorney immediately and make plans to exit the country to get it updated.

      • Ravi, I would like to highlight that, there were few cases, who were not able to do the I-94 extension as well. So, plan ahead, sometimes, you may have to try in other location or go to same location during second day.

    • Shashank, my wife was in a similar situation. She is on H4 and her I94 expired 2 months ago because of passport expiry. We got a new I94 at the Otay Mesa CBP office 2 days ago. She didn’t even have to cross the border.

      • Hi Kumar and all
        Thanks for all the information provided. My son is able to get his I94 updated yesterday at Otay Mesa. This is for his H4 which is expired almost 400 days ago with his old passport. visa is is valid till May 2021. CBP officials updated I94 without any issues. They are very helpful.

        • Hi Ravi,

          My son is 7 years old and his i94 expired 2 weeks ago. I will be visiting Onta Mesa San Diego CBP on Monday December 7th afternoon as I have to travel from Chicago. Can you please share me the exact location address of CBP office to book a cab from san Diego airport.
          Also, I94 online payment is not successful due to his expired passport. Can I pay there?
          Will they mandate you to cross the border?

          • The exact location for cab drop off is: Plaza Parking, 2489 Roll Drive, San Diego. When my kids visited the officer who they met was very kind and he didn’t make them cross the border. In fact he didn’t take the payment as well. They had the same issue for paying for the i94 as their old passports were expired too but they didn’t have an issue. But be prepared to cross the border, it all depends on the CBP officer.

  15. Here is my situation

    Passport is going to expire on Dec 21 2020, hence the I94
    But my i797 is valid until Sep 2021
    My visa expired on July 2020, can i still go to otay mesa cbp office and extend my i-94?
    As my visa stamp expired, i do not think i can cross the Mexico border and comeback because i do not have valid visa

    any one extended I-94 at CBP office with expired visa stamp but valid I797?


    • gopinitin,
      Well, this is going to be tricky as you do not have the valid visa stamp. You can call them or give it a try, but hard to say if they will accept.

    • Thanks a lot for your response Ravi. I will be prepared to cross the border. One last question: My son and I have valid visa till Jan 19th 2021 only. In case if we need to cross the Mexican border, will they allow us since we have shorter visa duration?

  16. Hi,

    Good day! Just wanted to check if the CBP Office at Otay Mesa is still processing I-94 extensions? And do they also process during weekends? Because I’m trying to call the number, but as mentioned in the comments, it’s no longer available. My I-94 will expire Feb next year and I’m on L1B visa which will expire late next year. I just renewed my passport last June and need to extend I-94. It’s too risky to travel to Mexico via plane due to COVID. Thank you and appreciate all the response!

    • Hi,

      I have the same question. My i94 expires in April’2021 and I’m on L1B which expires in March ‘2022. Is visiting CBP Office at Otay Mesa is better option than filing L1 extension? Is there anyone who is successful in extending i94 at Otay Mesa recently? If we cross the border , are they any Covid restrictions in Mexico? Do we have to quarantine in Mexico before coming to US?

      • Plz see my experience below. Dont call anyone just go there, I was there sunday evening. Its official in their website they are open 24 x 7. There is increase in walking and driving traffic- not what is desribed in this post, its changed now. No need of extensions, this works as long as your I-94 is valid.

    • Hello Friends,
      My wife and myself flew from Minneapolis to San Diego during Oct 1st week and it was an easy experience at Otay Mesa CBP office. I really dont know how much to thank you folks for your contribution in this forum. It has definitely helped all of us . This is what I did as i arrived at SAN airport. Arrival time: 5pm local time and went to CBP immediately

      San airport –> follow rental cars sign –>drove to plaza parking, roll dr –> parking ticket for 2 hrs (no towing just paymore if you overstay) –> arrived 6pm and carried my docs (pp, i797, 2 address proofs, pre paid 6 usd I-94 update fee) –> followed same instructions –> walked to permit room –> showed valid pp & visa –> asked to cross border –> temp check at mex immigration –> imigration card filled for self and spouse (no fees) –> bag check at exit –> walked in exit route until I saw incoming traffic from mex –> crossed road and walked on right lane (shelter until cbp) –> us officer 1: verified documents –> us officer 2: handed over 6usd receipt –> permit room officer: updated I-94 and attached a card with new dates –> most recent I-94 updated with new dates but with new passport number. It was a breeze experience. One tip: throw all your doubts and go there directly, dont waste time calling each cbp office. Recommend: sun country air, very cheap starting from 35 usd.
      Thanks aain contributors – ullas jagadish.

  17. Good Morning !

    Like everyone I too tried multiple ways to extend my & my spouse i94 (due to passport renewal) and I left with one option now-flying to otay Mesa.
    I have a quick question – When we pay i94 fee online, should I make two separate payments (one for me and one for spouse) or One single payment for family ?. If anyone has answer, plz share.. (I don’t mind making two separate payments, just want to know is it the right procedure)

    Thank you!

  18. 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.


  19. 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.

    • 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 🙂

      • 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.

        • 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?

          • 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.

  20. 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.

    • 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?

  21. 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  22. 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.

    • 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 ?

    • 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.

    • 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?

  23. 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 ?

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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 ?

      • 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.

  26. 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?

  27. 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

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

    • 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.

  28. 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!

    • 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/

      • 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?

    • 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!

  29. 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.

    • 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?

  30. 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.

    • 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).

    • 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.

      • 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

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. Hello,

    This should help :


    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.

  34. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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?

          • 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.

          • 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.

  35. 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 choudharisag@gmail.com
    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!

    • 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.

  36. 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.

    • 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.)

    • 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)

  37. 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

    • 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.

  38. 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?



    • 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.

  39. 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 !

    • 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.

  40. 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.

    • 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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