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Home » Important » I-94, LCA, and Visa – Can you legally stay and work in the US or should you leave in 2023?

I-94, LCA, and Visa – Can you legally stay and work in the US or should you leave in 2023?

The most common questions I get from those currently living in America are always about expiring visas, LCAs, I-94 dates, and how the three elements interact. There’s a lot of confusion about when you are and are not allowed to stay in the country and what you are permitted to do while you stay. So let me break it down for you.

First things first, as always, I’m not an immigration attorney and I highly recommend you speak to one if you are facing issues concerning anything below.

The easiest way to sum these issues up is to start broad and then zoom in, because these issues have a way of getting especially curly, very quickly.

If you’re outside the United States and you want to enter (e.g. on a visa)

For those of you who are outside the country and want to enter (putting aside any travel limitations due to COVID or other reasons), what you need is one of the following:

  1. A valid visa; or
  2. A valid ESTA; or
  3. A valid green card; or
  4. A US Passport

Let’s assume you don’t have a US Passport, because you can always get back into the US if you’re a citizen.

What do I need to check if I have a visa?

Inside your passport, if you have a visa, you will see a sticker (referred to as a “stamp” in many cases) that takes up a whole page of your passport. Something like this:

, I-94, LCA, and Visa – Can you legally stay and work in the US or should you leave in 2023?

This is effectively your permission to request entry. You need to check the dates on this document to make sure that it’s valid, and then you can use it

What do I need to do if I want to enter America on an ESTA?

To enter the US on an ESTA you simply need to go online and request one. There’s only one website to request an ESTA from and that’s this one:

Don’t get it from anywhere else, print it out, and make sure it’s valid for the full time you’re in the US (which can be up to 3 months).

You can’t transfer to another visa or immigration status from an ESTA, it’s purely for visiting temporarily.

What do I need to do if I want to enter America on a green card?

Assuming you haven’t been out of the country too long, you’re fine to enter the United States just like a citizen.

If you’re already in the United States the first thing you must check is your I94 date

As a general rule, the I-94 date (which is the date stamped in your passport and/or entered online that you got when you arrived in the country in the first place) is the one you have to check first. It determines the exact date you must have left the country by and it’s a firm number.

If you overstay this date, you can get yourself in big strife potentially resulting in deportation, fines, and not being permitted back into the United States for some time (or possible ever).


If you need help checking this date, then you can click here to find out how to check and/or print your I94 date.

* There are exceptions for those of you who have filed extensions with USCIS and we’ll go into those below.

What about my visa? Does that expiry date still matter?

Now we’ve got the basics out of the way, we can look at the visa. As I talked about above, your visa has an expiry date on it, and that date suggests how long you have permission to request entry into the United States.

Once you’re in the United States, that date technically becomes a little moot, as you no longer need to enter (you’re already there).

If you leave the United States on an expired visa though, you will not be able to re-enter the country. Very importantly: This is also the case if you have extended your status in America by filing with USCIS (e.g. an I-129) you have extended your ability to stay in the US, but you have not got a new visa. This is an important distinction because if you leave the country, you will not be able to return until you have gone through the visa process (at a US Consulate or Embassy).

When you enter the US, especially on an E3 visa, it’s likely that they will stamp your passport (your I-94 date) with two years from entry, as opposed to the expiry date on your passport. This is due to a slight confusion around the rules, and from what we’ve seen, is basically a mistake. It’s not your mistake though, so don’t worry if it happens to you.

This does however confuse things as we’ll go into below.

Where does my LCA fall in all of this?

As part of a work visa, you will likely have had to fill out an LCA. This document is a request from your employer for permission to employ someone (you) in a certain job, for a certain time, at a certain wage.

At a top-level, this means you can only work in the United States (regardless of everything else) if you have a valid LCA (and a valid I-94, because remember, that one’s important).

You can file a new LCA up to 6 months in advance of the start date, and it should not impact any existing LCAs that you are currently using (because the dates won’t overlap). So you can file in advance to make sure you stay valid.

So now… let the curliness begin:

I’ve filed an extension with USCIS, what’s the deal with 240 days?

USCIS is a giant machine, and therefore when you file paperwork with them it’s likely to take some time. If everyone who filed had to wait for their documents to come back to be able to stay in the US, well there’d be very few who actually got their paperwork back in time.

So they implemented a policy that says (for a lot of filings): Once we have received your documents and issued a notice of receipt, you get 240 days of status added to the end of your I-94.

This means that if you’ve validly filed for an extension, and haven’t heard whether it’s been approved or not yet, your confirmation of receipt document counts as extending your status for 240 days. Note: This will not be reflected when you check your I-94 online, so be sure to keep all the paperwork you are mailed back from USCIS.

If my USCIS extension is approved, how long can I stay in America?

When you file an extension, you file a new LCA and fill in a whole range of forms. This includes dates that you are now permitted to stay and on an E3 (for example) that could be up to another 2 years.

Again though, with this extension you can not leave the United States and re-enter. You are stuck outside if you don’t have a new and valid visa.

If I have an approved USCIS extension, how do I get a full visa? Is there a special process?

I will admit that I’ve only found limited information on this and most lawyers I’ve spoken to have suggested that even with an approved USCIS extension, the best bet is to just file as if you were filing a fresh E3 for your consulate visit.

“Just getting the stamp” might technically be thing but isn’t always worth it.

My E3 is expiring, but my I94 is valid for another few months or years! Can I stay and work in the US?

First things first, this is very common. Second things second, the answer to this question is a little murky.

Some lawyers have said that it’s fine to keep working without doing anything as long as your I-94 is valid, because when you arrived, you were permitted on your E3 work visa status until that date.

However, when you dig a little deeper you will see that the majority of lawyers recommend taking a slightly more conservative approach to ensure you stay on the right side of the law.

While in theory you can just keep on living and working, it’s highly recommended that you extend your status from inside the US (through an I-129) or you leave the country, get a new visa, and return. This is basically due to the origins of the E3 visa and the fact that you’re not really meant to have different dates.

Sure, you can skip this advice, and file a new LCA only (definitely recommend at least doing this) but this is US immigration law and you are in the country only with specific permission. Don’t ruin this for yourself and don’t risk it for everyone else.

The greatest risk comes especially if you want to renew in the future, and if you have to start by explaining why your visa was invalid but you were in the States working for a year, it might just get more difficult for you. You are only permitted at their discretion each and every time.

Please note: I know a lot of you have heard from your own immigration attorneys that it’s ok to stay in your particular scenario, and that’s fine! Trust your own attorney, not the guy on the internet.

My visa, LCA, and I-94 are all different dates!

Again, this is really common, but it’s important that unless you are 100% sure you have filed an extension and have the documents to prove it, you never overstay your I-94, and if you want to keep working, that you file an extension as above with USCIS.

My passport is expiring!

I’ve written about what you can do if your passport is expiring here, don’t worry.

My scenario isn’t listed!

Leave it in the comments below and I’ll try to answer it so that we can build this page up to be a comprehensive list of scenarios!

42 thoughts on “I-94, LCA, and Visa – Can you legally stay and work in the US or should you leave in 2023?”

  1. Hi Josh,

    We’re here on an L1/L2 Visa which expires mid 2024, our I-94 expires in Apr 2022. Are we required to leave and comeback in before Apr 2022? And what happens if L1 leaves their job prior to the Visa Expiry? Are they tied together?

    Too many different expiry dates and now totally confused.

    1. Hmmm, that’s strange… The passport you used to enter, did that happen to expire in 2022 as well?

      If an L1 leaves a job before expiry of a visa, I believe the grace period is the same as an E3 visa: You get up to 60 days (or your I94 date, whichever is sooner) if you quit/get-fired-from your job in the middle of the visa period, or up to 10 days if you reach the end.

      1. Hi,
        I’m currently working as a teacher in the US on an E3 visa but my home country is Greece (dual citizenship). Due to the travel ban for entering the US from the Schengen area, I’m not able to travel back and renew my visa(expires in July). If the travel ban isn’t lifted soon, I will have to extend my I-94 status (expires end of August). I told my employer to file a new LCA (the previous ends beginning of September) so we can be ready when it’s time to renew my visa or extend my status. My question is if you can help me: my employer put as start date in the new LCA July 2021. Will I have any problem with the dates? Should she file another one? Since the old LCA hasn’t expired yet and when I renew my visa or extend my status the new LCA will have already begun. FYI, I called the department of labor and they had no answer for me…
        Thank you.

      2. I had that too (a visa date until 2024 and I94 expiring in 2022). This is because your work authorisation will have the shorter date. My firm’s immigration lawyers applied for an extension of my L-1 work authorization (I-129S and I-94) under premium processing in-country. I didn’t need to leave and re-enter (for the reasons Josh set out above around the stamp being the travel document and that date being the relevant one).

  2. Hey Josh, love your content as always! Do you know if I require a valid I-94 before commencing work with a new employer on an E-3 visa? In other words, if my E-3 visa is approved in Australia, can I start working in Australia? Thank you!

  3. Hi,

    I’m currently working as a teacher in the US with an E-3 visa but my home country is Greece(dual citizenship). Due to the travel ban for entering the US from the Schengen area, I’m not able to renew my visa(expires in July). If the travel ban isn’t lifted soon, I’ll have to extend my I-94 status(expires end of August). I told my employer to file a new LCA so we can be ready in case if I have to extend my status so we will not have to wait until the new LCA is approved. I wanted to ask you if you know. My employer filed an LCA (approved 2 days ago) and the start date is now July 2021 and ends July 2023. My previous LCA and valid for now ends in the beginning of September. Do I have any problem with those dates since my previous LCA hasn’t expired yet? Should she file a new LCA? Because when either renew my visa or extend my status, the new LCA’s start date will have begun.. FYI, I called the department of labor and they didn’t have any answer..
    Thank you so much for your time.

    1. Hi Sofia! You should not have a problem, no. The only reason to file another LCA would be to give yourself some more time (because if you file it from July, you only get to July 2023, as opposed to filing from Aug/Sep and getting an extra month). That is my understanding!

  4. Hi Josh, so after reading your article it left me a little clearer than before reading it. I am on an E3, the stamp expires 14OCT21, LCA expires 28OCT21 and my I-94 expires in 2023. With COVID going on it is making it hard to renew with certainty abroad. If my employer files for a new LCA are you saying I can work on my expired E3 and a new LCA provided I leave the country and renew for a new stamp prior to my current I-94 expiring?

    1. Hey Andrew! Not really, sorry. Have a read of “My E3 is expiring, but my I94 is valid for another few months or years! Can I stay and work in the US?” on this page as it answers something very close to what you’re asking. Best practice is to file an I-129.

  5. Hi Josh,
    Thank you for this post.
    I am in similar situation where the E3 visa is expiring in October 2021 but i94 is valid for couple more years. My attorney is saying that they will file a new LCA and as my i94 is valid for next 2 years that should be enough to keep me in status. Are there any clarifications from USCIS around this or do we have any videos from any attorneys? Has anyone done this or they all filed i129 within the USA?

    1. Hey Josh! So the conservative view from most lawyers is that you can’t just file a new LCA, you need to do the I-129. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen anything specific around this from USCIS though. Sorry!

  6. Hi Josh,

    Hope you are well.

    This is my first time with E3 visa.
    1) A question around ‘yellow sealed packet’ that has to be given to CBP officer at the port of entry – I haven’t received it and the only Annotation I have on my visa is employer details. Do you know if I should receive it or is it electronically accessible to the CBP officer now as I read somewhere.
    2) Also, should I be making USCIS fee payment before the departure for E3 visa?

    Sorry if its is not relevant to ask here.

    Kind regards,


    1. Hi Priya

      1) The yellow sealed packet isn’t required for an E3 visa.
      2) You shouldn’t be making any payment to USCIS if you’ve applied for a visa outside the US at a Consulate/Embassy. What payment are you referring to?

  7. Hey Josh,

    I’m currently stuck in the US due to the travel ban with Europe. I have an E3 visa but my home country is Greece (dual citizenship), so now I cannot travel to renew my visa. I was waiting until now to extend my status (expires end of August) because the president said he’s going to give more information about the travel ban. Anyways, he’s planning to keep the travel restrictions in place. And here I’m now.. 30 days almost before my i-94 expires. I’m contacting a lawyer to see how fast and what exactly I have to do for the extension of status. But could you possibly tell me.. Do I need to file i-129 online or I have to mail the application and all the requested documents? Also, should my employer give a check to pay the fee? Or me?

    Thanks so much,

    1. Hi Sofia, I would definitely get in touch with a lawyer immediately. You have time but you need to file RIGHT away. It’s all done via mail and I believe you have to write checks, that’s the only option. I don’t know if it matters who pays the fee, but am not 100% sure.

      Let me know if you need a lawyer recommendation.

      1. So, I contacted the lightman law firm in New York today, I’m still waiting for them call me back. Do you have any other recommendations? I live in Michigan.


  8. Hi Josh, Thanks for sharing this information. Can I ask your thoughts on if my E3/LCA is expiring end of 2021 and my I-94 is expiring Feb 2022 – can I stay in US closer to the I-94 end date and stop working within the relevant times?
    Cheers, Sam

  9. Hi Josh-

    I’m writing with a question about my current petition to extend my current E-3 visa. I have extended my E-3 numerous times on my own, but I think this may require hiring an attorney for assistance.

    Typically I renew my E-3 at a consulate abroad, but because of Covid we did it via mail with Form I-129.

    After waiting for six months for a reply, my employer recently received a Request For Evidence from USCIS, because our approved LCA starts six days later than the dates we have on my I-129 petition (for arcane reasons owing to previous visas & LCAs).

    The RFE seems to suggest they should send an updated LCA with matching dates, but we are not sure of the process to change the dates on an already approved LCA.

    Instead, we are wondering if the easiest move is to reply to the RFE with an updated I-129 petition, with the dates that match the LCA.

    Does this make sense? Do you think I need legal counsel to continue with this RFE? Any advice would be very much appreciated.


    1. Hi Ryan,

      That’s a very good question but with RFEs I would always suggest using a lawyer just because they’re obviously getting to a point in your case where it’s important that everything is exactly right. Dotting your I’s and crossing your T’s! I’m unsure personally of which one is better, sorry!

  10. Hi Josh!
    Thanks for all your articles clarifying E3 visas, really appreciate it. I had a few questions:

    1) Does our visa expire on the date of the Expiration Date or the stamp date when we first entered the US (eg. visa expiring 2nd Dec 2021 vs stamp date class until 3rd Jan 2022 after entering on 4th Jan 2020)?
    2) My I-94 states the expiry date is 1/1/2023 because I travelled internationally on 1/1/2021 – I assume for employment purposes the employer would need to file an I-129 with USCIS to allow staying in the US and working after the visa expiration date?
    3) If waiting for USCIS to approve the I-129, can we make a consular appointment and leave the country to renew the visa or we’d have to remain in the US until it’s approved and go through a different process?


    1. Hi Nancy! This article is all about #1 and #2! I don’t know if I can add anymore than what I’ve already written. As for #3, you can leave, because the process is identical if you wait or if you leave early.

  11. Hi Josh,

    I am on H1B Visa and I had approval until July’2023 through my last employer and on the same I-94 date was mentioned as “07/23”.

    I switched organization on receipt and I got RFE with my current employer. I am not sure at this point what that RFE is for as it recently issued and haven`t reached to my current employer.

    What I am curious to know in worst case if upon RFE response, if my transfer gets rejected:-
    1) Can I stay in US considering my I-94 is for future date? Or I-94 doesn`t hold any value now as it came on I-797 Approval through my previous employer? I believe without receipt I can`t work but atleast can stay in the country.
    2) Can my employer re-file the case after rejection so that I can work back after I get receipt?
    3) Can I switch organization currently with current status of RFE? or even if status changes to rejected?

    Thanks and Regards,

  12. Hi Josh, Got the same advice as others that so long as you had a valid I-94 and no gaps in your LCA it didn’t matter if your E3 had expired. I managed to renew my E3 last week no questions asked. Like you said though it’s all up to the consular officer. Also for the first time they asked me for a US equivalency statement for my degree. Lucky I had one

  13. My LCA is valid till Oct 2023. I have received my I797 approval notice in Jan 2021. I am about to attend consular interview in Mar 2022.

    Does this mean my H1 visa stamp will only be valid till Oct 2023? or 3 years from stamping date?

  14. My visa is expiring in the first week of Sep 22 and I have an H1b extension case pending with USCIS applied under premium processing and expecting to get the result by end of May 22. If it gets approved, the new petition will be valid till end of Oct 22. If I plan to travel outside the country and come back before my visa expiry which is the 1st week of Sep and I am not planning to get the visa stamped as per the new approved petition. In this case when I enter the US, if CBP provides I-94 till 3rd week of Sep, am I legally allowed to stay only till 3rd week? In other terms which I-94 expiry date takes preference? Is it CBP I-94 or I797 I-94?

  15. Hi Josh – this is a phenom blog and I’ve been using it the last few years in navigating the complex visa system!

    I’m on the E3 and I’ve currently accepted a new job for December and plan to do an internal US filing/transfer. When my new employer submits a LCA/I-i129 form/whatever else – will my current employer be triggered in anyway? Ideally would like them not to know until I give notice!

    Seems like from the post above that LCA wont tell my current employer?


  16. Hi Josh, I had a query with respect to my dependents. I am currently on L1B Visa valid from 2019 to 2024. My dependents have the same visa validity but are on L2.

    Our I-94 expired in May 2022. I managed to get an extension (L1B) till 2024 (Visa expiry date). But my wife’s and daughter’s extension (I-539) is pending with USCIS (Receipt date : April).

    Is it possible for the entire family to exit the US (travel to Mexico) and re-enter based on the visa and L1B extension. Will my spouse and daughter be allowed to enter based on my extension. She is interested to get a new I-94 (L2S) and start working.

    Any help would be appreciated.

  17. Hey Josh!

    I had a bit of an urgent question here:

    My E3 expires on the 28th but I just married my wife who’s a Californian. We’re obviously looking at the Greencard route, do you know anything about transferring from an E3 to a greencard via marriage? More importantly, does applying for a greencard award a “bridging visa” similarly to Australia’s partner visa, or anything of the sort?

    I’m unsure whether to proceed with extending my E3 through applying for another one, or going straight for the greencard. Unfortunately time is of the essence so I have to make a decision and apply very soon.

    1. Applying does but you in a bit of a status that allows you to stay, yes, but I would highly recommend speaking to an immigration attorney before doing anything else. It’s best to have someone look big picture for you as there are lots of individual nuances.

  18. Hi Josh,
    I am an Aus citizen applying E3 for the first time.
    How apart can the start date on LCA and my Visa appointment date be ?
    How early can I file my LCA before the Visa slot date ?

  19. Hi Josh,

    I’m in the US on an L-1B and looking into changing my status to E3, for the portability and flexibility to change employer. I can’t seem to find any information about this process to change my status, how it is done and whether it’s easy or difficult to do, and preferably without causing my current employer to panic that I’m on the way out.

    Basically wanting to know how tied up to my current employer I am!

    Any advice or experience around this?

    Thank you!

  20. Hi Josh,

    I hope everything is well.

    I am currently working in the US with H1B visa with 1–94 expiring in 2024. I have 2 questions:

    1. I plan to quit my job and look for another one. Is that possible with H1B?
    2. Can I sponsor myself to apply for green card?

  21. Hi Josh, My son is a high school senior looking to go to college in the US starting this August. He is currently on E3D status. Can he flip to F1 visa as a college student and then, if he is under 21 years of age upon graduation, revert to E3D? Thanks,

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Josh Pugh

A business founding, digital marketing focused, charity driving, community builder from South Australia, living in New York City. After moving in 2017, Josh realized that there was an opportunity to curate and help the community of expats who moved to the United States – and launched America Josh.View Author posts