When any foreign citizen is admitted into the United States, their passport is stamped by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency. That passport stamp represents a physical form: the I-94. The I-94 is essential to any foreign citizen in the United States, as it defines how long they are legally allowed to stay in the country. Before your I-94 expires, you must either file an extension or leave the country.
We’ve written in the past about the I-94, and how important it is to keep track of its expiration date. The expiration date is determined by the type of visa you have. The law says that a USCBP officer can grant you up to the maximum time your visa classification allows – which could be anywhere from a few months to several years. The operative word here is “can” – you are not guaranteed to get the maximum amount of time, and you should not assume that you did.
If your passport expires sooner than the maximum amount of time for your visa, USCBP normally will set your expiration date to the same day that your passport expires. This means that you need to check your I-94 expiration date, which you can access on the USCBP’s website. Every single month, we get people calling who just realized that their passport is about to expire and found out that their I-94 is expiring alongside it.
This is a common issue for families who enter the United States together. The main applicant may not know the expiration dates of all the family’s passports. If the passport expiration dates are different, the family’s I-94 forms will all expire at different times, even though they have the same visa classification.
It also happens this time of year to many of our clients because their I-94s expire and they want to leave the United States to go home for the holidays and then come back in the new year. The process works just the same for United States citizens who are going overseas. During the COVID pandemic, passport renewal is just one of many things that is taking longer to accomplish than usual. It’s better to apply for it early when you see it coming up.
It is essential to check your I-94 expiration date, both in the airport when you arrive in the United States, and later online. If your passport is expiring soon, your I-94 likely will be too. For help, contact Valvo & Associates today! We are your go-to legal immigration resource for quality help.