You would get a shorter I-94 validity at US Port of entry, if your passport is expiring before US Visa stamp. As there are many travel restrictions in place, including the Trump Order that bans entry of H1B, H4, others until end of 2020, many try to extend their I-94 after passport renewal at US Border checkpoints. One of our readers, Suket Pandya, had similar situation and they extended their I-94 by visiting CBP office at US border checkpoint in Nogales, AZ. Thanks a lot to Suket 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 his 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.
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 Suket and I am on H1B and have Visa stamped on passport till Feb-2022. My wife name Latika 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 Latika’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 Latiks 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 Latika 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.
Latika 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 Latika 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.
Latika 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.