Many times, when you go for US Visa Stamping at a US consulate, you may not have passport valid for the entire duration for which the Consualr officer issues visa. Example, B1/B2 is issued for 10 years and you may only have like 5 year validity on passport. This situation can happen to all kinds of visas like F1 Visa, H4 Visa, H1B Visa, L1 Visa and others. Now, when you get a new passport, you may wonder, if you can use the valid visa in old passport and travel to US or not ? In this article, we will cover what are the official rules and how it works with valid visa on expired passport, including my personal experience on the same.
What is the official rule by US Dept of State for valid US Visa in Expired passports ?
As per US Department of state, the rule is very straightforward : You can enter US using the valid US visa on an expired passport, if you meet the below conditions.
- You need to have a valid passport, in addition to the expired passport.
- The issuing country of the current valid passport should be same as the expired passport.
- The type of the current passport should be same as expired passport ( e.g. both have to be regular type. You cannot have one regular and one diplomatic or other type).
- Your visa has to be valid on the old passport that expired. It has to meet the purpose of the travel.
- The visa on old passport should not be damaged and in good condition.
- You need to carry both of your passports – the current valid passport and the old passport with valid US Visa.
- Below is the screenshot of the exact rule taken from US Department of state website.
Does Airlines Travel Desk issuing Boarding Pass check Passports ?
Yes, the airlines travel desk person at the airport in your home country, who issues your boarding pass, or the security officer at the travel desk issuing boarding passes will check your US Visa validity and also passports. They will verify that you have both valid visa and valid passport and if you are carrying both passports. This is a pre-check before boarding flight to travel to the US.
Does the CBP officer at US Port of Entry ask any questions ?
When you enter US and go through port of entry procedures, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer would verify your visa in old passport, scan it and validate the same. They will capture your current passport details as well. They may or may not ask any questions on why you got new passport. The would put in a stamp your new passport indicating your entry and visa type that you are entering US and write annotation VIOPP, which means Visa in other passport.
Should you be worried, if traveling with expired passport and valid US visa ?
There is no reason to worry as the rules and guidance from US Department of State are very clear. As long as you meet all the conditions as listed in above section, you should be fine. Make sure your passports and visa are not damaged and machine readable. Usually the CBP officers ask questions regarding your travel and other general stuff. They may or may not ask about your expired passport having valid visa. Below are some of the common questions they may ask:
- Where are you traveling to ? which city, state ?
- What is the main purpose of your visit ? like studying, working, tourism, meetings, etc.
- How long will you be staying in US ? how many years, months or days ?
- Where do you currently live ? If it is your first time or are you living in US already ?
Have two new Passports since Old passport with valid US Visa – Can I still use ?
Yes, your valid visa in old passport that was given before stands valid. It does not matter how many new passport you have got after the old passport expired. The key thing to remember is that you have valid visa in passport. Personally, I had my valid B1/B2 visa was on my old expired passport and I had two new passports that I got as I exhausted pages. When I entered US at Port of entry, I was able to successfully clear immigration and customs by showing valid visa in my both old passport and the current valid passport. In a nutshell, the number of passports between your old passport with US visa and your current new passport does not matter.
Where is Official rule on US Dept of State Website ?
The Official details and guidance on traveling to US with valid visa in expired passport is under “Visa Validity” section at US Dept of State website. You need to click on the + icon to expand the question. See below screen shot on how it looks. In general, rules can change and you must check US Dept of state website for latest and current updates before you travel and make any decision to travel to US.
Experience : Traveling to US with valid Visa on Expired Passport
Background : I had valid B1/B2 visa of type regular ( R ) from 2012 to 2022 and it was in old expired passport that got expired in 2013. I got a new passport in 2013. My old and new passports are from India and of same type ( regular ). The B1/ B2 US visa in old passport was in undamaged condition.
I was traveling to US after 4 years with my B1/B2 visa, which was valid, but in expired passport. I did a lot of research to ensure I do not have issues at Port of entry (POE). I was kind of nervous leaving to US after 4 years for a conference with my new passport. Though, I did my research, I was kind of thinking in my mind, if there will be any questions at port of entry on the topic. I was just thinking if the system would recognize my passport and visa, etc…
Entering US Port of Entry : There was no issue with the system detecting my passport or visa. The CBP officer did not really ask me anything about my old passport. I gave him both the passports and he checked for himself and stamped the new passport with the entry date on it.
I was asked only few general questions like where I was going, where do I stay, what is my purpose of travel, etc. but none of them related to visa validity or passport.
I was able to enter US using the same valid B1/B2 visa in old expired passport, successfully without any issue. Overall, though I had some questions in my mind, until I got to Port of Entry, there is nothing to worry as long your US visa ( not just B1/B2 visa) is valid and in undamaged condition in same kind of passport given from same country.
There is no need to get new visa stamp, if the visa in the old passport is valid and not damaged. If your purpose of the travel matches to the valid visa, then you can use the same.
If you really want to get a visa stamp on your new passport, you can. Nothing is stopping you from getting it. You would be eligible for dropbox Visa stamping or Interview waiver.
You need to remember 4 things :
1. You need valid passport to enter US
2. Your US Visa in old passport is not damaged and in good condition.
3. Your current passport must be issued by same country as the old passport with US Visa.
4. Your expired old passport with US Visa must be of same type as your current passport.
Also, depending on the port of entry, you may also have Kiosks to do all the processing for certain types of Visa types. For instance, you do not need to go through long line at port of entry for B1/B2 and you can use Automated Passport Control (APC) Kiosks. You may also read B1/ B2 US Visa Stamping Experience
What was your experience entering with valid US visa in Expired Passport ? Share your experiences in comments.