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I came to the USA with a B1 visa. My visa expired this month and I applied for a visa extension last month. I received mail of Official receipt notice (I 797) that extension is still pending.

While it is still pending, could I travel by airplane? If so, what documents will I need to show to immigration officials?

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    Are you talking about traveling within the US, or internationally? – Nate Eldredge Sep 19 '15 at 17:10
  • What is your nationality? – Michael Hampton Sep 19 '15 at 21:27
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    There is no such thing as a "visa extension". A US "visa" is only for entry to the US; if you need to enter the US again after your visa has expired, you would simply apply for another visa. Do you mean that your status has expired and you have applied for an extension of stay in the US? – user102008 Sep 20 '15 at 5:10
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tl;dr: You can fly within the US and also you are good to travel to Canada and Mexico, for 30 days or less.

Your legal status depends on the I-94 date stamp and not the visa. You can retrieve your I-94 at the Department of Homeland Services. Once your I-94 has expired, if you are still in the US, you are overstaying. Nothing I am saying should be considered endorsing that.

If your I-94 has not expired, then you are legally staying within the United States. This includes flying. If you are overstaying, anecdotal evidence suggests that the TSA and airline agents will only check the validity of your passport and not care about visa stamps. They do not even have any legal basis to require you to show the latest visa stamp, as they are not law enforcement. In an ordinary case you won't meet Customs and Border Protection officials. Some airports do not even have any. Obviously, if your behavior suggests a problem exists, then law enforcement can get involved regardless of whether it's an airport or not, but more easier at an airport and then you can get in trouble.

You can check the official travel site for Re-entering the United States with a Valid I-94 Form and Expired Visa:

Non-immigrants who departed the United States for brief travel to Canada, Mexico, or an adjacent island (for F and J non-immigrants) for thirty days or less

This CBP document gives you more details, but it's the same basic provision. It's also much clearer about what the (for F and J non-immigrants) refers to: only the adjacent islands.

  • The OP's question probably means he has a pending Extension of Stay application. If so, he is legally staying within the United States regardless of whether his I-94 has expired. – user102008 Sep 20 '15 at 5:08
  • That's an extremely complicated question. This USCIS document has more on this: "Even though you are not actually in a lawful nonimmigrant status, you do not accrue “unlawful presence” for purposes of inadmissibility under section 212(a)(9)(B) of the Act, while your extension of status application is pending if it was filed prior to the expiration of your Form I-94." – chx Sep 20 '15 at 13:28
  • It's an extremely unclear question rather than a complicated one. – Karlson Sep 20 '15 at 15:56

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