I-94 Extension in USA with Passport Renewal Experience

I-94 Extension with Passport Renewal in USA – Experience during COVID-19

In US Immigration - Visas by Guest AuthorUpdated : 21 Comments

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. One of our readers, Vinod, was in similar situation. After much research, he was able get his I-94 extended by not flying out of the country. He was kind enough to take time to share his detail experience. Thanks a lot to him for taking the effort and sharing it with our community. We really appreciate it ! Also, Mainsh was able to get his I-94 Extended as well following similar process, we have added it at end, Thanks to Manish. You can also share with our readers, by emailing it at [email protected].

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.

  1. 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
    1. 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.
    2. Travel to Mexico ( Indian citizens holding US H1 VISA can travel to Mexico without Mexican VISA) and Re-enter to the United States.
    3. Travel to Canada ( Indian citizens require Canada Visitor VISA) and Re-enter to the United States.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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)
  4. 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.
  5. 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 from VJ – Word of caution for above process. Thanks to VJ.

Not able to Renew I-94 Using above process used by Vinod

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.

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. 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…


Below experience is by Manish at Otay Mesa CBP center. Thanks to him

I-94 Extension after Passport Renewal at Otay Mesa

Thank you Vinod for writing this post. Based on information you provided and help I was able to get my i94 extended at Otay Mesa, San Diego Mexico border. Vinod has already covered all the steps in details.
I’m adding few more points that are specific to Oaty Mesa CBP office.

  • Calling CBP Office : You may have to call multiple times to confirm, as not all agents know about i94 extension. My first call reached their cargo center and the person did not know much. Second call was same.vOn my third call, officer confirmed that they will do i94 extension. Please tell very clearly about passport expiration/new passport, valid visa etc.
  • Address to CBP office for Driving : If you are driving to CBP office Otay Mesa and using Google maps, please do not put CBP office address. Google maps shows you route that cross Mexico border and back to reach CBP office in US. Rather put Sentri Otay Mesa in Google maps. This office is in the same building and google maps takes you to the office without crossing Mexico border.
  • After Entering CBP Building : Once you enter the CBP building, on your right there is a small room that has “Permit” written at its door. That is the room for i94 extension. Officer checked my details, i94 extension form (suggest you fill and pay i94 form online and take printout), passports, i797, photo id (DL) and updated my i94. He did not even ask me to cross border. Overall it went pretty smooth.

Common FAQs, Tips for I-94 Renewal at Otay Mesa CBP

  • CBP or SENTRI Office : You need to go to Otay Mesa CBP Office for the I-94 extension. Otay Mesa SENTRI center is closed due to COVID-19.
  • Exact Address : So, Otay Mesa CBP and Sentri office are in same building. If you are using google maps, make sure it doesn’t take it across Mexico border. When I put Otay Mesa CBP address, it was taking me across the border and back to CBP office in US. So, put Sentri Otay Mesa address (2500 Paseo Internacional, San Diego, CA 92154). Be careful while using google maps to not cross the border. (I’m not sure what happens if you do by mistake.)
  • Parking : There is private parking lot near CBP office. I think it is called Plaza parking.
  • Open Hours : It is open only weekdays from 6am to 8pm. More details https://www.cbp.gov/contact/ports/otay-mesa-california-2506 . San Ysidro is available 24×7, all week. https://www.cbp.gov/contact/ports/san-ysidro-class
  • Documents Required for I-94 Extension :
    • Old Passport with valid visa
    • New Passport ( Renewed)
    • I-797 Approval notice
    • One more photo id (I used my California DL).
    • Additionally I took other usual docs like latest pay stubs, petition etc. but nobody asked for it.
  • Travel by Flight or Drive : I’m in Bay area, I took Alaska airline from SFO to San Diego and back. No issues. Regarding Drive or flight, it is a personal judgement call. I considered driving to avoid enclosed space in air plane, but then driving would take at least 10 hrs with many breaks in between (more with family) using lot of public shared spaces. That looked more risky. I was also worried if car break down happens in this almost 1000 mile journey it may be difficult to handle due to this lockdown. So, decided to take flight. Surprisingly, SFO and San Diego airport were completely deserted and Alaska airline purposely booked only half of the plan, so only one seat is used on each side. Basically there is 2 seat gap between all passengers . Overall I’m happy with the flight journey.
  • Masks, Gloves : Mouth covering is mandated by law during shelter in place at all public places. So pls. have mask/covering all the time.

Good luck.

Please feel free to contact me for any query.

   

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Comments ( 21 )

  1. Praveen

    Hi Manish,
    Thanks for your detail information. I’m also in the same boat and did try Canada border but I ran out of luck since they mentioned that I-94 can’t be renewed without technically entering into Canada (Canada didn’t gave me entry due to non-essential travel). Currently planning to go to San Ysidro location. You mentioned that it’s open 24×7 and will it be the same scenario there too (giving I 94 updated). Is there any specific reason that you went to Otay Mesa than to San Ysidro.

    Also, checking here in the forum if someone has experience going to San Ysidro location

    1. Manish

      Praveen,
      I went to Otey Mesa as I was able to get confirmation on phone from Otey Mesa CBP office first about extending i94. I did not get any proper answer from San Ysidro CBP office. My plan was to go to San Ysidro if Otey Mesa did not work (these office are close by).

      I purposely went on a week day and at the start of normal week day working hours, hoping better response than non working hours.

      I traveled as soon as I got confirmation from CBP by booking same evening flight tickets. We do not know when admin may decide to close some offices/process for any reason (like some local covid outbreak or general change in immigration policy). Also, did not want to wait close to expiry of i94 to have back up option in case i94 renewal at CBP doesn’t work.

      Not sure if any of that helped, but that was my thinking.
      Good luck.

  2. RAM

    Hello All,
    First of all, thank you for posting their I-94 renewal process. Same situation with I-797 and visa stamp valid until July 2022 due to passport expiry I-94 shortened to July 2020. I got my new passport and I live at texas. Wondering anyone has successfully able to update I-94 at Laredo, Tx border crossing.

  3. Zan Zhan

    Manish

    Thank you so much for your sharing.

    My question is do you have Mexico Visa?
    How do you get Mexico Visa in term of COVID-19?

    Best,
    ZZ

    1. Manish

      ZZ,
      I do not have Mexico visa. I’m told that you can travel to Mexico on valid h1b visa (not sure though).

      My focus was to NOT cross the border. So, I went to US CBP office.
      Expectation (based on what I’ve read) was that the CBP officer will either just update my i94 or ask me to cross US border and take U turn on pedestrian bridge without having to cross Mexico border and update i94 on entry to border.

      Due to covid situation I did not expect Mexico to let me enter (even if it was allowd on h1b).
      I’ve no idea how to apply for Mexico visa.

      Thanks,
      Manish

  4. Irshad Ahmed

    Hello Everyone,

    I am on H1 B VISA and got stamped. My I 94 expiry date was till my passport expires. Now I got my passport renewed and my I 94 is going to expire tomorrow, i.e, 5/18.
    What is the best option to get my I 94 Renewal . I checked with CBP at Newark International Airport and they will only make the correction to I 94 and will not renew.

    Appropriate any help to get the best solution.

    Thanks and Regards,
    Irshad

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Irshad Ahmed,
      You should go to one of the CBP locations at the border and get it sorted out soon…above users experiences are some guidance for you on what you can try…Do update on your situation here for community benefit.

  5. Abhishek Jain

    Hi Manish,
    Thanks for sharing your experience. When did you get your I-94 extended? I thought Otay Mesa CBP/Senti office is closed because of COVID.
    We have another complication that our Visa stamp is expired , so crossing border is little risky if they do not know the rule of allowing us in based on expired stamp but valid I797 and I94. So we wanted to go Otay Mesa sentri office and get the I94 updated, we called multiple times but no one picked and then read somewhere that they were closed until June 1. So wondering which office did you go and which office did you exactly go and what are their timings.

    Thanks a lot for your help!
    Best,
    Abhishek Jain

    1. Manish

      Abhishek,
      You are right. I’ll also not suggest you to do what I did. I went to the port of entry (CBP office),
      Although the officer did not ask me to cross the border, on paper, I exited US border and entered again. I did that on 5/15.

      I think it is not possible in your case with expired visa. You may not be able to come back without valid visa.
      Sentri may be the right option. It is closed due to covid-19.
      I’m curious, if you got your i797 renewed, doesn’t it come with updated i94?

      Note: I’m not a lawyer, so pls. do not take my suggestion as final.

      Thanks,
      Manish

      1. Abhishek Jain

        Hi Manish,

        We went to Cancun last year when we had valid visa stamp and renewed i797 valid till 2022. Our passport were expring in June 2020 and because of that we got short validity i94.
        If you did not cross the border then having valid visa stamped or not should not matter.
        There is also a rule where with expired visa but valid i797 and I94 one is allowed to travel to Mexico and Canada for short stay(less than 30 days) and reenter the US. Below is the link, I was hoping is someone here have used this provision.

        https://help.cbp.gov/s/article/Article-1218?language=en_US

        There is no clear date on which Sentri will open also I don’t know if one needs an appointment to visit Sentri or not or walk in are allowed. On their website it says that all the personal visits are suspended.

        Thanks again and appreciate you sharing all the details.

        -Abhishek

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Thank you Manish for sharing your tips and experience. I have added it to article for everyone benefit.

    2. JAGDISH KUMAR

      Excellently researched options worked out. You have been kind to share it and saved many others from taking trouble to spend time and efforts. Thank u very much.

    3. DJ

      Hi Manish,

      Thanks for sharing your experience. Hi , Me and my wife have i94 expiring in dec this year and h1b /and h4 visa valid till 2022. We both want to extend i94. I am planning to go to Otay Mesa CBP next week. I wanted to check couple of things with you before visiting

      1. Did you go to Otay Mesa CBP or Sentri Enrollment centre?
      2. Can you send me exact address where you went ?
      3. Is the Otay Mesa CBP open 24×7 or is it opened between 6am – 10pm all 7 days or only during weekdays ?
      4. What all documents you had to take ?
      5. If they ask to cross border, are h1b and h4 both allowed inside mexico without visa ?

      Kindly let me know. It will be really helpful as I need to go with wife and small kid.

    4. DJ

      Hi Manish,

      Thanks for sharing your experience. Hi , Me and my wife have i94 expiring in dec this year and h1b /and h4 visa valid till 2022. We both want to extend i94. I am planning to go to Otay Mesa CBP next week. I wanted to check couple of things with you before visiting

      1. Did you go to Otay Mesa CBP or Sentri Enrollment centre?
      2. Can you send me exact address where you went ?
      3. Is the Otay Mesa CBP open 24×7 or is it opened between 6am – 10pm all 7 days or only during weekdays ?
      4. What all documents you had to take ?
      5. If they ask to cross border, are h1b and h4 both allowed inside mexico without visa ?
      6. Were you able to travel on flight while shelter-in-place order is there right ? I am in Bay area, CA and planning to go next week so want to confirm if there is any issue with respect to travel on planes.

      Also, any specific precautions to take regarding covid19 like masks, gloves, etc and other things and is there any checking done with that regards.

      Kindly let me know. It will be really helpful as I need to go with wife and small kid.

      1. Manish

        DJ,
        1. Did you go to Otay Mesa CBP or Sentri Enrollment centre?
        [Manish]:Otay Mesa. Sentri center is closed due to covid-19.

        2. Can you send me exact address where you went ?
        [Manish]:So, Otay Mesa CBP and Sentri office are in same building. If you are using google maps, make sure it doesn’t take it across Mexico border. When I put Otay Mesa CBP address, it was taking me across the border and back to CBP office in US. So, put Sentri Otay Masa address (2500 Paseo Internacional, San Diego, CA 92154). Be careful while using google maps to not cross the border. (I’m not sure what happens if you do by mistake.)
        There is private parking lot near CBP office. I think it is called Plaza parking.

        3. Is the Otay Mesa CBP open 24×7 or is it opened between 6am – 10pm all 7 days or only during weekdays ?
        [Manish]:Only weekdays from 6am to 8pm. More details https://www.cbp.gov/contact/ports/otay-mesa-california-2506

        San Ysidro is available 24×7, all week. https://www.cbp.gov/contact/ports/san-ysidro-class
        4. What all documents you had to take ?
        [Manish]:Old and new passport. with valid visa, i797 and one more photo id (I used my California DL). Additionally I took other usual doc (latest pay stubs, petition etc) but nobody asked for it.

        5. If they ask to cross border, are h1b and h4 both allowed inside mexico without visa ?
        [Manish]:I would think so, but I’m not sure. Pls. check other sources to confirm.

        6. Were you able to travel on flight while shelter-in-place order is there right ? I am in Bay area, CA and planning to go next week so want to confirm if there is any issue with respect to travel on planes.
        [Manish]:I’m in Bay area as well. I took Alaska airline from SFO to San Diego and back. No issues.

        Also, any specific precautions to take regarding covid19 like masks, gloves, etc and other things and is there any checking done with that regards.
        [Manish]: Mouth covering is mandated by law during shelter in place at all public places. So pls. have mask/covering all the time.

        Good luck.

          1. DJ

            Thanks Manish for the responses. I appreciate your response. It will be really helpful.

            Also, is it ok if we as a family of more than 2 ( 2 adults and kids) can travel in flight all together from Bay area to San Diego ? I just wanted to assess the risk on doing so in terms of Covid. Othewise was thinking of driving but that is also risky due to shelter-in-place.

            Regards,
            DJ

          2. Manish

            DJ,
            Drive or flight, it is a personal judgement call.

            I also considered driving to avoid enclosed space in air plane, but then driving would take atleast 10 hrs with many breaks in between (more with family) using lot of public shared spaces. That looked more risky.

            I was also worried if car break down happens in this almost 1000 mile journey it may be difficult to handle due to this lockdown.

            So, decided to take flight. Surprisingly, SFO and San Diego airport were completely deserted and Alaska airline purposely booked only half of the plan, so only one seat is used on each side. Basically there is 2 seat gap between all passengers . Overall I’m happy with the journey.

        1. administrator
          Kumar

          Manish,
          Thanks for sharing all info. I have added all the above answers to your experience, so that it is clear for everyone.

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