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Importance of Monitoring the I-94 Expiration Date

3 min read
US EB-5 Visas

For nonimmigrants temporarily in the United States, maybe the most important date to track is the expiration date of one’s I-94 arrival/departure record. The I-94 record used to be given in paper form by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) upon arrival to the United States at an airport or other port of entry (POE). Since 2013, in most situations, one’s I-94 record is rather given on the web. A paper I-94 can also be given by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). When one is granted an extension or change of nonimmigrant status from within the United States. If the USCIS issues an I-94 card, it will arrive attached to the bottom of an approval notice (Form I-797).

Difference Between I-94 Expiration and Visa Expiration

The expiration date on a visa foil (usually alluded to as a visa “stamp”) in the passport. And the expiration date on the I-94 record is regularly not the equivalent, as they serve two different purposes.

The visa is only an entry document. The time that one is actually permitted to stay in the United States after entry could be much shorter or longer than the duration of the visa. The proper amount of time an individual is permitted to stay in the U.S. Generally is indicated on the I-94 and is typically determined by the CBP at the POE or the USCIS, as discussed above.

It should be noticed that, in specific situations, one’s I-94 might not have a set expiration date. For instance, an individual entering in F-1 student status normally is admitted for D/S. Which signifies “duration of status” rather than a certain date.

Implications of Failure to Extend I-94

The I-94 demonstrates how long a foreign national is allowed to remain in the United States provided the individual follows the terms of status. Depending upon the conditions, staying in the U.S. even a single day beyond the I-94 expiration date can cause immigration problems.

Cannot Rely on Errors on the I-94 Card

If CBP or the USCIS inadvertently gives an I-94 with an inaccurate expiration date. Either giving an I-94 for a longer period than allowed by law, or for a shorter period than proposed. A failure by the foreign national to notice this mistake and take appropriate action can lead to detrimental results.

Accordingly, foreign nationals are urged to check their respective I-94 cards immediately after issuance to verify the documents are free of mistakes. If an issue with an I-94 is found, one should move rapidly to correct the error. The USCIS has clarified that one should not depend upon an erroneous grant of more time in a nonimmigrant category than was requested or than one is eligible to receive under the law.

Expiring Passport May Lead to Shortened I-94 Expiration Date

Normally, CBP won’t give an I-94 with an expiration date that is past the expiration of the foreign national’s passport. So, while one may carry an I-797 approval notice. That allows the issuance of specific status for an extended period (e.g., an H1B approval notice valid for three years). If one’s passport terminates prior to this date, the period of admission generally is similarly truncated.

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If the foreign national’s passport is subsequently renewed while in the United States. This conventionally has no immediate effect on the I-94 expiration date. Generally, to extend the I-94, the individual should then either leave the U.S. also, be readmitted, or else apply for an extension of status.

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