Depending on the type of US visa you get at the US Consulate, you may get it issued beyond your passport validity. But, when you enter the US at a Port of entry, your current passport expiry date is used by the CBP officer to issue your I-94 Expiration date. If your passport is expiring before the US Visa expiry, then you will get I-94 validity until the end of your passport expiry. You may read I-94, Sample, how to fill, if you are not familiar with I-94
Now, when you renew your Passport in the US, you need to make sure you update your I-94 expiration as well to be in valid legal status in the US. Just having a valid visa in an old passport is not sufficient. In this article, we will review all the options to get the I-94 updated, when you renew or re-issue your passport and also share User Experiences.
Before you understand options, it is important for you to have all your documents ready. Below is check checklist
Overview of all options to get I-94 Extended
There are about 5 options to extend your I-94 in the US when you renew or re-issue your passport. While there are mixed opinions on some of these options, we will try to give all of those so that you can choose what works for you. Below are the all different options.
- Cross the US Border by land and return
- Fly out of the US to Mexico or Canada and return
- Visit the nearest SENTRI enrollment center
- Visit any CBP office at a US Port of Entry
- As your attorney to file an extension application with USCIS
- Call CBP Deferred Inspection Sites, send an email, and get updated.
Let’s look at each of these options in detail.
Option 1: Extend I-94 by Crossing US Border by Land
The option to exit and re-enter the US at a border checkpoint is probably the most straightforward one and seems to work most of the time. It is also confirmed by many of our readers. The process is simple as described below.
- You go to any US Port of entry border crossing, where you can walk or drive from the US to Mexico like Otay Mesa, Laredo, etc.
- Cross the US border by land
- Get an immigration stamp on your passport from the country you are entering such as Mexico or Canada by telling the reason for your travel, which is to update your I-94. Sometimes they do not stamp as well, so not very consistent.
- Re-enter the US at the port of entry border crossing by land.
- Once you re-enter US, you will fill out respective paperwork for new I-94. The duration of I-94 is updated during this process.
If you have a vacation planned for another country or you live close by the state to the port of entry border crossings, this works well. The goal is to exit the US and re-enter.
There are some occasions, where some users are turned back by the CBP Officers saying one of the below reasons
- They have too much time left on the I-94 before the extension. For example, if your I-94 is expiring in December 2022, you show up at the border to extend I-94 in October 2022 or earlier.
- Sometimes, the CBP officers say that they cannot extend the I-94 as they say that it is not a “meaningful departure”. Usually, some say that a meaningful departure is when you exit the country and get a stamp in the arriving country with a purpose. It could be anything like staying for a day to visit a place or anything.
If you cannot get I-94 extended based on this option in the first try, you can go back to the port of entry again the next day or a few days later. If not, you can try option 2 below or other options.
Also, you can join I-94 Extension Community Telegram Group to share, exchange
Option 2: Fly out of the US to Mexico or Canada and return
If you cannot get I-94 extended at the US border crossing, one of the best options that seem to work most of the time is taking a flight out of the US to either Mexico or Canada. The good part is, you do not need a valid US Visa if you are traveling for less than 30 days.
You can leverage the Automatic Revalidation option if you have a valid I-94 issued by USCIS/DHS. The only catch is you cannot apply for US Visa when you use Automatic Revalidation
Usually, one of the suggested options is to stay for a day or two in Mexico or Canada and then take a flight back. The main reason for it is to make your exit a ‘meaningful exit or departure’. When you take the flight back, at the airport you land and enter the US at the port of entry, you can show your I-797 approval notice that has longer validity and have the CBP officer issue you I-94 until that date.
Option 3: Extend I-94 by Visiting Nearest SENTRI Enrollment Centre
SENTRI stands for Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection. SENTRI enrollment centers do a variety of things related to US-Mexico border CBP processes. You may be also able to update or extend I-94 at a SENTRI enrollment center. This totally depends on the center. Some had successes and some could not update I-94 due to closures or the officer not allowing it. So, it depends on the officer and your luck.
If you use this option, you do not really need to cross the border, but you can get your I-94 update done on the US side itself at any of the designated SENTRI Enrollment Centers. The only catch is that SENTRI enrolment centers are only in the states of Arizona, Texas, and California and you probably need to drive or fly to the nearest one. You can check for the nearest SENTRI Enrollment Centers list on CBP Website.
Process to extend I-94 at SENTRI Enrollment Center :
- First, before you go to any center, call them beforehand and verify, if they are allowing I-94 extensions or updates.
- If they allow it, it is very straightforward. You need to walk into the enrollment center and go to the Permits section. But, before that, you can pay $6 USD at the cashier (carry cash ).
- Depending on the line, your name will be called by the officer and he may ask questions about your status. You need to tell that you need to extend your I-94 as you got a new Passport.
- They will ask for the documents, you show them and answer basic questions they ask and your I-94 should be updated. Many users shared their experiences in the past updating I-94 positively at “SENTRI / Global Entry – Otay Mesa Enrollment Centre, 2500 Paseo Internacional, San Diego, CA 92154 “
Option 4: Visit any US Port of Entry CBP office at Airport
This is probably the best option to extend an I-94, if it works out. But, this option has mixed opinions, few have got success, and many have not got success. When you call the airport CBP office, sometimes they say, they cannot update I-94. While some have reported that I-94 was updated when they visited in person. It all varies by state and location.
How to get your I-94 updated at Airports
- First, call the CBP office at International Airport closer to you and verify, if they do I-94 update or extensions.
- If they say yes, try to go there and try out your luck. If you have time, you can directly visit them as well and try your luck.
- You can look up for a Port of Entry on CBP website that is nearest to where you live and go to their office and get the I-94 update.
- As I said, there are mixed opinions here and most of the times, you may get a No from them.
Option 5: Attorney to file Extension with USCIS to extend I-94
If your approval notice from USCIS is about to expire (i-797 Approval Notice) within 6 months for certain visas like H1B or L1 then you can ask your employer and work with your Immigration attorney to file the relevant extension petition for the same. Also, if you plan to move to another status by change of status(COS) or plan to apply for an extension on your own, you can try this as well.
If your petition is not close to expiration, your employer may or may not file an extension. Also, if you are on visas like F1, H4, or L2 visas, the processing times for the extensions are really long like 8 to 10 months for some centers and you need to wait…This can be a risky option to wait with an expired I-94 as your status is unclear at that time. Read what is US Visa vs. Status for more info.
You need to speak to your Immigration attorney for this option and make a call.
Option 6: Call CBP Deferred Inspection Sites, Email
This option had little success, only a few users reported they had success. One of our readers had an expired US Visa, so they could not travel out of the country. They called a few CBP Deferred inspection site phone numbers and eventually they had success with San Diego CBP office. Phone: (619) 491-2680 or (619) 491-2625.
- The officer gave the user an email id and asked them to send an I-94 correction request to that email id.
- There is an automated response to that email that has a form attached that you needed to fill and send along with the old/new passport info page, US visa, I-797, and last US entry stamp in the passport.
- After some time, you get an automated response that the I-94 is updated. You can check online on I-94 website to see the update.
Some users were able to directly email the CBP Deferred inspection site and get it corrected…worth trying it.
Documents Checklist for I-94 Extension in USA
- Passports: Both old and new passports(including the one that has US Visa Stamp)
- Approval Notices of your Visa Status: USCIS approval forms are tied to your visa status. E.g. I-797 Approval Forms, if on H1B, H4, L1, L2 approval notices
- Address Proof: Your current proof of address in the US, where you reside like Rental Agreement, Utilities Bills, etc.
- I-94 Card: Your Current I-94 Card/ Info printed from I-94 Online System
- Supporting Documents based on Visa Status: Depending on your status in the US, you need to carry additional supporting documents.
- If you are on H1B Visa: Current H1B LCA that is tied to your petition.
- If you are on H1B, L1, or other work visas:
- Employment Verification letter from the Employer
- 3 to 6 most recent Pay Slips / Stubs showing your proof of employment in the US
- (optional ) Copy of I-129 from your employer
- (optional ) Your Resume
- If you are on H4 or L2 and working on EAD :
- Employment Letter
- Most recent 3 to 6 pay stubs.
- Cash: $6 USD Cash to pay for the I-94 update. You may pay online ahead of time, but need to carry that printout and confirmation.
I-94 Extension in US – 18 Experiences by Users
Few of our users have been kind enough to share their experiences updating I-94. Below are their experiences.
- I-94 Extension by Crossing US Border – 5 Experiences at Otay Mesa CBP
- I-94 Extension without Crossing US Border – 3 Experiences – Otay Mesa
- L1A – I-94 Extension Experience – Crossing Border at CBP Otay Mesa
- 3 Experiences US Canada Border – I-94 Extension near Detroit
- I-94 Extension by Flying to Mexico City During COVID
- I-94 Extension at CBP Office – Laredo, TX Mexico Border
- I-94 Extension at Nogales, Arizona – Experience
- I-94 Extension Experiences at Peace Arch – US Canada Border
- San Ysidro I-94 Extension Experience
- Bad Experience with I-94 Extension Experience – How to prepare
Common FAQs for I-94 Extension in the US
Let’s look at some common questions about I-94 update or extension in the US.
You can pay for I-94 using Cash or pay Online on the CBP website. The only catch is that you need to visit within 7 days from the day you do this online and you need to carry a printout of the same. If you do not visit within 7 days, there are no refunds. You can pay online for I-94 at the CBP’s DHS.Gov Website. In terms of which is better, sometimes the line for Payment at Counters can be long…so, it is a better idea to pay online and carry a copy of the printout of the confirmation.
For the I94 extension or update, you will meet the CBP officer and the interview is the same as the one you have at a US Port of Entry process when you enter the US either by Flight, Ship, or Road. You need to be prepared to answer questions about your employment, working, living in the US, etc.
Yes, you will get a paper I-94 printed and given when you do an I-94 extension or update by crossing the border. Check Sample I-94 Cards given at the US Port of Entry. Yes, the online system is updated as well. Usually, they staple the new I-94 card with your passport, you will need to show that when entering back into the US at border, so keep it careful. You can check online after you come back in the online system too regarding your I-94 for the recent entry, it is updated in real-time.
Well, this all depends on the immigration officer and the process at the Land Port of Entry. Sometimes, you get lucky and you may not be asked to cross the border and everything is done at the port of entry office in the US….you may be asked to cross the border and re-enter. Many users have shared that they ended up crossing Mexico Border and re-entering when they did this at Laredo, Texas or San Diego, CA.
The process to update/ extend I94 is the same for everyone as described above. You can use any of the three options. If does not matter, if you are on H4 or H1B visa…You will need to carry all your relevant documents and supporting documents.
What has been your experience updating I-94? Share your thoughts? Anything I missed ?