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A couple of weeks ago I traveled to the US by car and received an I-94 for 3 weeks. Then 4 days later I've returned to Canada and handed over my I-94 to the CBSA officer. The exit was properly recorded and I can see it on the DHS website. Today I've traveled to the US by car again expecting to receive a fresh I-94, but instead the border guard let me in on my original one. This forced me to re-print my I-94 before I went back as otherwise I wouldn't have been able to give one to CBSA on my way home.

So what are the rules for receiving a fresh I-94? Does it never expire before it's original expiration date even if DHS knows you've left the country?

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You don't mention if you were entering the US with a visa or under the Visa Waiver Program, and the details will be slightly different depending on that, but in general it's very similar.

You were re-admitted to the US under your previous entry record.

If you were in the US under the Visa Waiver Program, then short trips to Canada (or Mexico or a few other nearby locations) do not end/restart your entry into the US. This is done mainly to avoid people doing "visa runs" to those countries.

If you knew you were re-entering the US, you should have kept your I94 form and you would have been able to show it on re-entry to the US - although obviously the immigration officials had an electronic record of it so were able to find the details anyway.

If you were in the US on a visa, then the process is a little different but fundamentally the same. You would have been re-admitted into the US using a process called 'Automatic Revalidation', which results in basically the same thing as described above.

The benefit of Automatic Revalidation is that it allows you to re-enter the US from Canada/Mexico even if your US visa has expired - as long as your previous stay (ie, I94) is still valid.

Both of these processes only occur for trips to Canada, Mexico, and a few nearly islands. If you went any further than those then you would have been re-admitted to the US as a new stay, with a new I94 record being generated.

  • So, I can't request a new I-94 even if it expires soon and I need more time in the country? – JonathanReez Supports Monica Jan 28 '18 at 4:09
  • @JonathanReez No. It works this way to explicitly disallow you from doing that... – Doc Jan 28 '18 at 4:34
  • So let's say I have an I-94 for 6 months, spend 1 day in the US, then come back 5 months and 30 days later... would I only be allowed to stay in the US for 1 day? – JonathanReez Supports Monica Jan 28 '18 at 4:37

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