It's the holiday you never knew about and one that you never knew you needed! I-94 day happens twice a year: the 9th of April (9/4) and the 4th of September (9/4), so here we are again this year! It's an important day for anyone who is in the United States on a visa or ESTA/VWP. So what is it? And what is an I-94!?
When you enter the United States on a visa, you sometimes get a stamp in your passport which has a date and status scribbled or stamped on it. Sometimes you don't get the stamp, but you still have a date and status automatically attached to your name and passport, and it is the absolute last date you are allowed in the United States: The I-94 Date.
If you overstay this, the consequences can be brutal.
What's I-94 Day?
Well, on the 9th day of the 4th month and the 4th day of the 9th month, I thought it would be a good time to remind everyone to check their I-94s. The reason we need to constantly check this date is because you get a new one every time you enter the country and sometimes it can be entered incorrectly, there could be a mistake, or you might just be getting close to yours without realizing.
So happy I-94 day! Celebrate with me! Check your I-94!
How do I check my I94 date and status?
It really is quite easy, with CBP making a really functional website for checking into your current status:
- Go to the I-94 website
- Select “Get most recent I-94”
- Read the popup, then push “Consent & Continue” (if you consent)
- Fill in your personal details, push “Next”
- On this page you will find:
- Admission (I-94) Record Number (an I94 form identifier)
- Most Recent Date of Entry (the date you arrived most recently)
- Class of Admission (what visa or status you entered under)
- Admit Until Date (the really important date, your I-94 date)
- “Get this traveler’s history” has some extra information about your recent exits and entries, too!
Check ALL of these, and make sure everything is correct. If you have some incorrect info, then you should either contact an immigration attorney or reach out directly to your local Deferred Inspection site.
Is the I-94 the same as my visa expiry date?
No! The I-94 date is different from the visa date. The visa is an entry document. It allows you permission to request to enter the United States. It is the key to the gate (there's still a bouncer though – checking IDs, just in case).
Every time you enter the country, you will (possibly) receive a new I-94 with potentially a new date, so it’s important to check each and every time you re-enter. Sometimes it will be the same as your visa expiry, sometimes it will be much longer, and sometimes, it might even be less.
What happens if you overstay your I-94?
This is one of the the worst things you can do on a visa.
There are exceptions for special reasons but you may be deported, you may be told you are not welcome back into the United States for some time, and/or you may even be told you can never return to the United States.
I'm not trying to scare you, but I want you to be aware! Don't let this happen!
A special note for those who have done an internal extension and have an I-797
If you've filed an I-129, or an I-539 and have received an I-797, which has approved your extension, then that document contains your new I-94 and the website above may not have those details updated.
Trust the I-797 in your hand!
Also, after you've received your receipt of filing, you can also rest assured (in most cases – speak to an attorney to make sure) that you have a temporary extension of your status while that's processing.
You're ok as well!