You would get a shorter I-94 validity at US Port of entry, if your passport is expiring before US Visa stamp. Many try to extend their I-94 after passport renewal at US Border checkpoints. two of our our readers, SP & Shashi, had similar situation and they extended their I-94 by visiting CBP office at US border checkpoint in Nogales, AZ. Thanks a lot to SP and Shashi for taking time to share a very detailed experience all the way from planning, driving to the place and the entire process. We really appreciate their effort and time to share the experience with our readers ! You can share your experiences as well by emailing it to redbus2us(at)gmail.com.
Experience 1 : I-94 Extension Experience at Nogales – Complete Guide
As a background, if you are looking for all options to extend i-94, you may read article How to Extend I-94 in US, Options – CBP vs PoE
Our Situation for I-94 Extension
- My name is SP and I am on H1B and have Visa stamped on passport till Feb-2022. My wife name LP and she is om H4 and have her Visa stamped till Feb-2022. But her old passport is expiring on Sep-2020. So when we entered stats in April-2019 after a travel she got het I-94 until Sep-2020.
- We renewed LP’s passport in Oct-2019 and have new passport, but since we were expecting a baby in Jan-2020 we didn’t travel anywhere to get new I-94.
- We were planning to go on vacation this Aug-2020 to Mexico and get her new I-94 before COVID situation started but our planned changes due to COVID. In June we started planning to go to India in Sep-2020 with our infant and come back after a month. But our thoughts changed after recent Ban.
- We thought of this option to go to Nogales border last year but rejected that since my Office attorney suggested to travel via either sky route or home but avoid road travel outside border. Now I know it was just a stupid suggestion from them.
Decision Making, Planning for I-94 Extension at Nogales, AZ
After Recent travel ban on H1B on June-23rd we decided to not travel outside country as we are expecting more and more EO which can impose more ban . We want to avoid any more issues. So I started researching about CBP office I-94 renew at Nogales border. I didn’t know that I-94 can he extend without crossing border too. I came across RedBus2US blog and got to know that Nogales border have Permit office which will do it with just $6. I started asking fee friends if anyone have done at Nogales and I couldn’t find anyone so I started preparing for worst and decided to call them.
I called at (520) 375-5785 and asked them regarding I-94. Operator on this number transferred me to permit department. He said yes we could do but you might have to walk outside border. I asked him, is border open and will be able to come back due to COVID situation and he said yes no worries on that. He did requested me to come prepared with gloves and mask to avoid any contact as Arizona is hotspot.
I started preparing for documents and I thought I will take each and every document you have suggested on your block with addition of fee extra documents. Below are the documents I took.
Documents Checklist for I-94 Extension
- Both passports for both H1 and H4.
- I-797 Approval notices for both of us
- I-94 copy for both of us
- H4 EAD Pay checks
- H4 EAD Employer’s letter
- H1B Employers pay checks
- H1B employer letter
- Signed LCA of H1B
- Our kids Birth Certificate ( just in case if I have them to allow us to come back- an emotional point)
We have our parents here so we thought of leaving kids at home and Myself and LP decided to travel there.
Border is exactly 3 hour drive from my home it’s actually 2.30 hours to 3 hour of drive from Phoenix depending on which corner of Phoenix you live.
You can join I-94 Extension Community Telegram Group to share, exchange
Travel to Nogales, AZ for I-94 Extension from Phoenix
We decided to avoid taking any break due to COVID situation and drive straight there.
We started at 6.30 in the morning and reached there at 9.30. We were traveling on Saturday so there was not lot of traffic and road is pretty much freeway with 75 mph limit. If you do want to take any break Tucson is best to take any break as it comes 2 hours drive from Phoenix.
Parking of Car before CBP Office
Here are the GPS coordinates location, where we parked our car : (31.3341826, -110.9427765) (Linea Frontera)
There are 3-4 parking lots around same area but we entered the first once which we found okay from visual. Parking fee is $5 for all day.
You enter to the parking from west side and then exit of east side and that’s where you have CBP office. Once you exit parking lot, you have to walk to 10-20 yards and cross the road and go down from stairs. You will see lot of people walking that way and board are written as ‘To border’.
I-94 Extension Process at CBP office, Nogales
Once you reach to border you will see three things.
- First a security checking/port of entry which is allowing people from Mexico to come inside. You will see officers and people coming into US.
- Next to that, you will see stairway and written board ‘Permits’. It’s a read board like a stop sign.
- Third thing you will see is pathway and written board of ‘To Mexico’ .
You have to go to upstairs to permit office. We walked upstairs and it was completely empty on Saturday morning. There was on officer and we told him our situation. He verified both our H1B and H4 visa stamps and I-94 and took around 15 minutes to do so.
Once he verified he said everything looks good to me but in order for me to issue new I-94 you will have to cross the border and come back. I asked him regarding will we be able to come back and he said yes of course, your documents are correct and there won’t be any issues.
Crossing the US Border for I-94 Extension at Nogales
We came down from permit office and decided that only LP will travel to other side and I will just stay at US side. We took that decision to avoid any issue due to recent EO.
LP walked towards ‘To Mexico’ sign. She had to walk for around 20-30 yards and followed the crowd. There was a round way door which is basically Mexico entry. Once she cross that door, you can see there are taxi driver asking for ride. That’s where she took the U-turn and came back to the door.
Process after Entering US for I-94 Extension
Once she reach to the Port of entry, there was a good line of around 20-25 people ahead of her. Once she reached close to gate, 1 officer was asking of what kind of documents they have it and letting 10 people at a time go inside port of entry. That’s where LP told them regarding her H4 visa and they asked her to wait. They took her documents and asked her to sit.
One officer took her passport, I-797 and I-94 and went to main office inside US side for verification. Officer took around 15 minutes and come back and said yes she can come back. We are guessing this was happened due to the fact of recent EO and officers were not clear in instructions.
Once she got her documents back, she was let inside at port of entry and their officer again verified her documents and asked basic port of entry questions. ( reason for travel, where do you live in US) and after hearing reason he said why did she cross the border. He said the I-94 extension are done without crossing border.
LP informed officer that Officer seating at Permit office asked her to do so. After that officer took her back to permit office and that’s where I was waiting for her.
Once we reached to permit officer, officer took her finger prints, picture and issued the new date on her Passport and said online I-94 will be available in 1-2 days.
He didn’t give us paper copy of it. Saying he will just update passport and date on I-797. We were okay with that. After that we were back to our car. Total process took us 1.5 hour and we were back to our car at 11.
Travel Back to Phoenix, AZ from Nogales after I-94 update
We started back from there at 11 am and around 20 minute drive from border there is a checkpoint. There we were asked if we are citizens and we said no. They asked for visa status and asked for our passport and I-797. Which they verified quickly by visual and let us go. Drive back home took us same 3 hour and we were home by 2.00 PM.
Experience 2 : Extending I-94 without Crossing Border at Nogales CBP
Thanks to Shashi for sharing the experience below. It is from June 2021
Background : I did my H1-B extension in Jan-2019 and travel to India and came back in April-2019 and at POE, I got I-94 validity till my passport expiry date which was June-2019, I renewed my passport in March-2021. I asked my immigration team to start filling the H1-B extension and due to some reason it is got delayed and on 28th June, I come to know it is not possible before 29th June,so I started to explore and find out that I can go to Nogales Arizona CBP office and get my I94 extended.
Process to Extend I-94 at Nogales CBP
- As I located in Phoenix, so Nogales CBP is near to me, so thought to go there.
- As I do not want to take any chance so I called them on 520-375-5785 at 8 AM as the office open between 8 am to 4 pm and told it is regarding I94 then they directed my call to the permit office and I explained my scenario and they asked me to come.
- I have started from Phoenix at 8:45 AM and reached there around 11:15 AM and parked my car in CBP office visitor parking and asked to guard where is Permit office and he directed me behind one person.
- I reached in permit office it was empty and I am alone, I went to CBP officer and he asked for my passport and original I-797 and verify that and took a picture and fingerprint.
- He asked me to pay a $6 fee which I did from my card after that he attached white paper with my passport where I94 extended was mentioned.
- It was only 5-10 min process and with an hour the date got updated online too.
One more thing they did not ask me for pass border. As well as I took all valid documents with me like I-797, 3 months pay-stub, offer letter, I94 and address proof
Experience 3 : Extending I-94 at Douglas CBP, AZ
Thanks to Vinay for sharing !
Decision to go to Douglas instead of Nogales : I called Nogales CBP office but I was getting different answers every time , sometimes they say they will do I-94 extensions and sometimes they say we won’t do. So I decided to call Douglas,AZ CBP office and they said they will do I-94 extensions and first time when I called they said we don’t need to cross the border and second time when I called they said we need to cross the border. At the end I decided to go Douglas,AZ CBP office as I heard there wont be any big queue’s and also decided I will cross the border if needed.
Travel to Douglas CBP : I started on Sunday morning from phoenix to Douglas, AZ CBP office and GPS showed me to cross the border in order to reach that CBP office but we weren’t decided to cross the border without first checking with CBP officer as I want to be sure whether I have all the documents and will they do I-94 extension for my wife. Once I reached Douglas I have parked my car at a duty free shop (UETA TAX& DUTY-FREE) and asked for directions on how to go to CBP office by walk and it is like a 10 min walk from that shop and finally was able to find and go to that office.
Extending I-94 at Douglas CBP
I talked to an officer at that place and asked for I-94 extension and he pointed me to a different officer and I have explained same to him and he understood what I need so he took us to permit office and asked for basic docs like all our passports, he checked with his superiors and told he can give I-94 extension but we need to cross the border and come back.
After confirming with the officer that we can come back to USA without any issues , we(me, my wife and my son(US citizen)) have decided to cross the border and officer literally showed the directions and escorted us to the border area and he said he will wait at the USA entrance when we come back.
As said he was waiting for us over there and then he took us again to Permit office and extended the I-94 , he just took passports, my H1 I-797 and I-94 extension payment receipt which I paid online before going there. The whole process took like 1 hr and officers over there were really really helpful and talked to us politely. My wife received paper I-94 and he said it will be updated electronically soon.
I went back to that duty-free shop where I parked my car and as he said within an hour I was able to verify online that my wife’s I -94 got extended 🙂 .
Good things about Douglas. No rush at all if you cross the border by walk and if you cross the border by car then it might take like an hour or so. Officer said usually they are busy on Sunday’s but there are like hardly 2 people crossing the border by walk.