Many of the US non-immigrant visa holders would get shorter duration on the I-94 than the visa expiration or I-797 approval notice due to expiring passport, when they enter US and go through Port of entry Process. In general, it would have been a straightforward process to Extend I-94 after Passport Renewal in US. But, now with travel restrictions in place due to COVID-19, it is very different, and tricky situation.
Couple of our readers, Vinod & MS were in similar situation. After much research, they were able get his I-94 extended by not flying out of the country. They was kind enough to take time to share his detail experience. Thanks a lot to them for taking the effort and sharing it with our community. We really appreciate it ! You can also share with our readers, by emailing it at [email protected] or by adding the same in comments, we will update it in article.
Below is first Experience at Canada Border by Vinod
My Situation – Passport Renewal, on H1B Visa, I-94 Expiration
- I have recently renewed my Indian passport (in Chicago Indian Consulate). But, my current I-94 is valid only till my old passport expiry date which is June 2020.
- In general, CBP officer will issue I-94 end date either petition/VISA end date or passport expiry date when you enter US. In my case, I have H1B I-797 approval notice and H1B Visa stamp on old passport, which is valid till 2021 August, but my passport was expiring in June 2020. Hence, I got I-94 till June 2020.
- Now with the new passport in hand, I need new I-94 with the validity matching to my VISA stamp and the I-797 petition end date. I live and work in Michigan.
Options for Extending my I-94 after Passport Renewal
After my research I realized that there are only three options to renew I-94.
- Travel outside of US, re-enter : Travel outside US and Re-enter by holding both old and new passport. CBP POE will issue new I-94 based on new passport and VISA expiry date
- Travel to India and Re-enter to the United States is the best option. No consequences, you are legally re-entering with new passport, VISA stamp on old passport & approved I-797.
- Travel to Mexico ( Indian citizens holding US H1 VISA can travel to Mexico without Mexican VISA) and Re-enter to the United States.
- Travel to Canada ( Indian citizens require Canada Visitor VISA) and Re-enter to the United States.
- SENTRI Enrollment Center : Go to SENTRI enrollment center in Laredo-Texas, San Diego ( Otay Mesa or San Ysidro) or Arizona. Sentri enrollment centers are there in only Texas, California and Arizona state.
- Process is very simple. You just walk into the enrollment center, pay the $6 fees at PERMITS section and attend POE interview. Better to fill and pay online “New I-94 request form” and carry the printout.
- This SENTRI enrollment centers are inside US, so no question of crossing the border.
- CBP Locations : Go to the one of the below three CBP location and renew your I-94 – Need to cross the border and re-enter. All are pedestrian crossing locations in Mexican border. Pay online fees for new I-94 and attend the POE interview to get new I-94.
- a. Laredo-Texas ( gateway bridge 1): Enter the bridge walk mid-way and walk on yellow line back to US line ( per different forums online, this is legal so no worries). Up on meeting CBP officer, you will be called for an POE interview and officer will issue you a new I-94.
- b. San Ysidro East and West – San Diego CBP POE office: Go to the CBP office and request for I-94 renewal, if you are lucky you will get new I-94 based on your online payment receipt without crossing the border. However if the CBP officer asks you to cross the border then just cross the pedestrian border line, return and join to the US line. Crossing the border is easy, just a pedestrian crossing so no need to go to the Mexican side to meet Mexico officers. Just a walk, cross the line and U turn kind of deal.
- c. Otay Mesa – San Diego CBP POE office: Same rule applies here as 3.b above.
- I have called all above a, b & c locations and the CBP officers confirmed me that I-94 renewal is a valid case and they will issue new I-94. But the condition is you have to cross the border and officer will guide you back to join the US line. As long as you have proper I-797, living in the US legally and a VISA stamp on old passport you are good to Re-enter to the United States in all the three pedestrian crossing locations.
How I Extended my I-94, Process followed with COVID-19 Travel Issue.
Due to Covid-19 pandemic and all international restrictions in place, my options were limited. Option no 1 and 2 were not possible for me. I was left with CBP option. Below is the process I followed.
- Contacted CBP Detroit: I have called CBP Detroit Windsor tunnel office and explained my situation. Officer assured me that I can re-enter to the United States if Canada is ready to let me in. But there is a Non-Essential travel ban in place between US and Canada. However, officer suggested me to contact Canada border agency and explain my situation to them and request for entering Canada and Re-enter to the US.
- Contacted Canada Border Agency : I have contacted Windsor tunnel Canada border agency and explained my situation and told officer that I will be just crossing the border and will take U-turn go back to the US. Officer assured me as long as I don’t enter Canada, I am good to take U turn and re-enter.
Now the challenging and risky part 🙂
- Drove to Detroit Windsor Tunnel : I just drove to the Detroit Windsor tunnel and entered the tunnel. Upon arriving at Canada border, officers asked me the reason. I stated the actual reason (to get the new I-94 back in US POE) and told officer that I don’t’ want to enter the Canada and my purpose of visit is just to cross the US border and Re-enter to get new I-94. I will just take U turn and go back. Officer called other officers and they pulled me to park the car in parking lot. I explained the situation and they did few paperwork and handed over my passport and a letter stating that I have travelled as Non-Essential travel category and they are sending me back to the US. Officer told me to hand over the letter to the US CBP officer and they guided me to drive back to the US
- Arriving at US Port of Entry, Interview with CBP officer : Upon arriving at the US POE. Officer asked me the reason, I stated same like to renew my I-94 I have crossed the border. Officer did POE interview, I had filled online new I-94 request form ( you can fill this form only using old passport) and paid the fees online. Handed over the I-94 request form to the officer and they guided me to the CBP office in border crossing ( US side). I went inside and attended regular POE interview, explained my reason for the travel to Canada border and told officer that I did not step out of my car and just took a U-turn. Officer took the finger prints and issued me a new I-94 paper record attaching to my new passport.
Anything to note or Potential Issues with the above process ?
In general, no issues. Entry and Exit is as normal. However, you cannot enter into Canada during Covid-19 pandemic because of the non-essential travel ban. But going to the Canada border and taking U turn is feasible because they won’t let you inside and they will have to send you back to the US. But, you should have valid Canada Visitor VISA.
Key learnings, Tips for I-94 Extension with Passport Extension in US
- Be honest, no matter what do not try to give wrong answers or some cover up story. All we need is legal I-94 and do it at the right way. All option 1, 2 & 3 are valid cases.
- Fill and pay the fees for new I-94 record online. Go the I-94 website and fill & pay online take the print out. It is valid for 7 days.
- During this Covid-19 Pandemic, options are little tricky. Please check the travel restrictions in State ( example: You cannot travel to Texas from other state, there is a mandatory 14 days quarantine order in place)
- Northern side folks can try Canada border during this Covid-19 pandemic situation as long as you have valid Canada Visitor VISA. If you don’t have Canada Visa , please confirm with Canada border agency before you enter. Otherwise you may have to face the consequences, in my opinion they will still deport you or send you back to the US even if you don’t have VISA.
- Texas and San Diego is the best options for other state folks.
That’s it folks. Be prepared and Good Luck !
If any questions, leave comments, I will be happy to answer.
Experience 2 from VJ – Word of caution for above process. Thanks to VJ.
Not able to Renew I-94 at US Canada Border
Hello Everyone: A quick update on my case. 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. They were nice, polite, and agreed to send me back after some verification (took about 30 min).
On returning I was stopped in 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. The devil lies in the details. I Returned from Canada checkpoint, however since I wasn’t admitted in Canada, It is counted as , I never left US. Weird. But this is what happened. Looks like it is at the sole discretion of the CBP officer at the checkpoint.
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. However it turns out, the decision is made by the officer on duty and there isn’t a standard protocol.
So, when you plan the above, have backup plans as well, if the above does not work out…
Experience 3 – Successful I-94 extension from MS – Sep 2020
I-94 Extension Experience for H4 Child at Canada Border
Hello Hi My name is MS. FIRST of all am really thankful to everyone for sharing their experiences. I would like to share mine for my daughter I94 extension. Myself and my spouse has H1 visa and I94 till Aug 2021 but as my daughter is 5 year old and her passport expiring in October 2020 and has valid I94 only till October 2020 I had to apply for new passport at Chicago consulate and got it last week.
As we live in Detroit I tried 2 options No risk and bit risky I read the above process and followed exactly step by step.
Airport CBP Office
First no risk — as few said if we can go to Detroit or any Airport CBP in person they may entertain our request for I94 extension but it didn’t work they said we need an appointment and also said they do corrections only and all requests need to submit via email gave a slip which has the below content [email protected] (include description, error attach passport bio page,visa,stamp photo, supporting docs I797 etc., most recent I94) sent back .
Disappointed as it did not work, gathered some courage me and my spouse decided to go Windsor tunnel
Driving to US – Canda Border for I-94 Extension
I followed the same process as stated above in experience 1 by Manish.
Step1 – Calling CBP US and Canda Border offices
Called CBP USA and Canada as well explained my situation (I informed I DON’T HAVE CANADIAN VISA to Canada agency) and got thumbs up to come. — link for contact https://www.dwtunnel.com/contact/
Step 2 : Going to Windsor Tunnel – Canda Border
Entered Windsor tunnel paying $5 toll drove all the way to end to see that there is Canada CBP border shelter entered in line am little nervous but remained calm in car as my turn came there is officer (lady) asked our passports I explained my situation she was very serious and asked why you entered without visa do you know there is restriction. the officer asked me the reason for being there and also how much money do I have ? I said $25 and I said I want an I-94 extension for my kid and that is the purpose to cross the border. I don’t want to enter Canada I just need to go US POE. I was asked about multiple things by the officer she came out and told me to take U turn keeping a yellow paper on wind shield.
When I reached the other side there are 3 officers asked me to park a side and said since I have no visa they will send me back I felt OK but tensed as they took my passports to deal with some papers inside I remained in car I believe after around 15 tense minutes that officer came out and handed over the passports, as well as a letter to sign stating that for not having a visa they are not allowing us and sending us back. I read me and my wife signed gave docs he gave a copy and placed on windshield. Then, I was guided on how to get to the U.S. tunnel and I was told to give the letter to the U.S. CBP officer.
Step 3 – Entering US Border from Canada
I entered tunnel and to the US border a officer at small shelter named “all traffic” asked reason for entry and I said same for my daughter I94 extension . he asked same question like Canadian officer how much money do I have? I said $25. he called someone gave a yellow slip to enter CBP US POE office. upfront 2 guards guided me to park my car asked to open all car doors hood and trunk leaving phone and keys in car. They asked me to step out gave the docs on windshield ,yellow slip searched my wife’s hand band and to guided us to CBP office.
Step 4 – CBP Officer – I-94 Extension Process
I entered inside only one officer was there in office may be due to COVID. He asked me to come front and asked the reason for arrival I said for my kid’s I94 extension he asked to give documents we have.I gave I797 and passports and online $6 paid receipt for I94 nothing else he asked us to take a seat. He took around 5-10 min in the meanwhile he is stamping we understood that he was granting I94 and we are really happy. He called us gave passports and docs and said we are ALL SET!!!
That’s it !!!! we exited happily out from office.
we went to see all car doors ,hood and trunk open for checking I guess we closed everything and were guided to leave ..
🙂 Happily left from there. Thanks again for those who wrote their experiences we are really appreciate your effort in turn which encouraged me write mine. I apologize for any language and grammatical mistakes.
Experience 4 – Successful I-94 extension from GO – Oct 2020
Successful I-94 Extension at Canada Border Windsor Tunnel
I was able to renew my I-94 at the Windsor-Tunnel at the Canada border in US recently in Oct 2020.
- My situation was basically the same like most people here. I am on a H1-B visa with a valid date till Aug 2022 but my old passport was expiring in Dec 2020, so did my I-94.
- I work and live in Michigan, so going to Canada border was my best bet.
- After I renewed my passport, I called up the CBP at the Detroit’s Windsor Tunnel and explained my situations. The officer told me that they did I-94 renewal all the time and gave me a green light to come.
- I did not even call the Canada border and I just drove all the way to the border. Before going into the tunnel, I had to pay $5 at the toll booth.
- I drove through the tunnel and went straight to the Canada border. The Canada officer asked for my passport and reason to enter Canada. I told him that I was there to renew my I-94 and the US officer asked to cross the border and U-turned back to US so that I could get my I-94 renewed.
- He put a red slip at my windshield and asked my to pull up my car to the side. 2 officers came out and took the red slip and asked me why I was here and I explained my situation again.
- They told me that they had to deny my entry because I did not have a Canada visa. I said that’s fine and that was what I wanted as well. They took my passport and did some paperwork. After 5-10 mins, they came back to me and asked me to sign two papers. I kept one and the officer took the other one. The papers are basically the proof to show to the US officer that I did entered the Canada border but got denied because I did not have the Canada visa.
- I took the paper with me and drove back through the tunnel again and reached the US border. The US officer asked for my passport, I-797 and the paper that the Canada’s officer gave me. He asked me why I was denied and told him I crossed the border to get my I-94 renewed. He called 2 officers and asked me to pull my car to the side.
- The 2 officers asked to step out from the car and left my phone in the car. I was only allowed to take my wallet and documents/passport to the office. I went into the office by myself while the 2 officers were inspecting my car. When I was in the office, the officer at the counter asked me why I was there.
- I explained my situations again and provided all the passport and documents he requested, + $6 for I-94 renewal fee. He also took my fingerprints and photo. He asked me to take a seat while waiting for him to process the documents. After 10-15mins, I was called and he handed me my passport with the updated I-94 form attached in my passport. It all set!
My experience was pretty much same as what the first and third experiences shared above! It was smooth, easy and fast. I was worried at first before I decided to take the Canada’s option. But after seeing successful experiences from above, I think that really gave me the confident to do that. I shared my recent experiences here so that you would not need to worry about it when crossing the Canada border to renew your I-94.