HR Guide: I-94 tracking, extension, and implications on visa status
Updated: Sep 1, 2022
HR Managers: Why do I need to learn about I-94?
As the people leader who oversees immigration at your company, understanding the I-94 and the details it carries is very important to make sure that the employer and the employee stay compliant with immigration regulations and don't risk their immigration status by overstaying. The "Admit Until Date" on the I-94 determines when the foreign national employee can lawfully stay in the U.S.
This article explains how to track the expiration dates, which dates are more important than the other dates and what all documents you should verify when conducting I-9 verification.
What is an I-94?
When a foreign national is lawfully admitted into the U.S., the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, issues an I-94 that shows the date of entry and the date until which the foreign national is allowed to stay in the U.S., plus some other details that we'll talk about in more detail below.
Where can I find my I-94?
The I-94 for a foreign national can be found on CBP's website. Here are the step-by-step directions on how to generate the most recent I-94 -
Open the CBP webpage
Click on the "Get most recent I-94" button under the "Already Visiting & Need Proof of Visitor Status?"
You would need the following details to generate the I-94 -
First (Given) Name
Last (Family) Name/Surname
Note - this is the passport number (in most cases)
Country Of Citizenship
What details does the I-94 contain?
The I-94 would show the following details -
Admission Record Number
Most Recent Date of Entry
Class of Admission
Admit Until Date
First and Last Name
Date of Birth
Country of Issuance
What is the "Class of Admission"?
The Class of Admission shows the kind of visa that the foreign national entered the U.S. on. For example, if their last entry in the U.S. was as an international student then it would show F-1 but if they entered on a work visa, it would show H-1B, L-1A or L-1B etc.
What is the "Admit Until Date" and how is it determined?
The Admit Until Date is the date that the CBP officer assigns for the stay when they clear the foreign national for entry into the U.S.. Here are the kind of dates that could be assigned -
D/S - Duration of Status
This means that the status expiration date on the visa is the date of expiration of the stay in the U.S.. For example, if the foreign national employee got a three year visa stamp on their passport for an H-1B, then D/S would mean that they can legally stay in the U.S. until that date for three years.
Date expiring before the expiration date on your visa
At times the CBP officer would assign a date that is prior to the visa expiration date. This would happen when the foreign national employee enters into the U.S. with a passport that is less than 6 months from expiration.
If the foreign national employee's passport is more than 6 months away from expiration then they would most likely get the D/S status for the admit until date.
What if the "Admit Until Date" is wrong?
As the foreign national employee, you should always check all the details on your I-94 and make sure that your information and the information about your visa and expiration date are correct. If you believe you've been assigned a wrong Admit Until Date, because either you entered the U.S. on a passport that had more than 6 months left on it or for some other reason, here are the steps to follow -
Book an appointment with CBP’s local office - There should be a CBP office at your nearest airport. You can book an appointment with them online before going in. If you can't find an appointment then you could try going into the office and they may entertain you but you probably would have to wait.
Take the passport and I-94 print out - Take your physical passport and a print of your latest I-94 with you to the CBP office.
Go out of the country and re-enter - If you are planning to travel before the expiration date of your I-94, you could just get a new I-94 on your way back.
What are the implications of a wrong "Admit Until Date"?
The "Admit Until Date" is very important for the employer and the foreign national employee to track because it determines the length of time that the employee can stay in the U.S. legally.
The I-94 Admit Until Date supersedes the visa expiration date.
For example, if the employee's current visa expires on September 23, 2025 but the Admit Until Date on the latest I-94 shows February 12, 2024, then they can only stay in the U.S. until Feb 12, 2024.
Foreign nationals: How can I extend my "Admit Until Date"?
Reason: You have a new passport
Option 1 - File for an extension of status
A new approved I-797 would come with a new I-94 with a revised Admit Until Date. Note - This I-94 is different from the I-94 generated on CBP's website (which will only update when the employee exits or enters the U.S.).
The Admit Until Date of the I-94 on the I-797 will supersede the Admit Until Date shown on your CBP I-94
Option 2: Go outside the U.S. through Mexican or Canadian border
If the foreign national is not planning to travel to back to their home country anytime soon, this could be a cheaper way of getting the I-94 renewed. All they have to do is go to either the northern or the southern border and re-enter into the U.S. with a valid passport (should not be expiring within the next 6 months) to get a new I-94 with a revised admit until date.
Option 3: Get a new I-94 at one of the ports of entry
If the foreign national employee is planning to travel outside the U.S. they can just get a new I-94 with a revised admit until date on their way back. Note - they need a passport that isn't expiring in the next 6 months.
Option 4: Apply for extension of stay I-539
This is a longer, more painful and expensive process. You can fill out the I-539 and pay $370 government processing fee and $85 for biometrics service fee. Once submitted, it would take 4-5 months for USCIS to issue a new I-94. Tip - I'd rather book a trip to LA or Toronto and get a new I-94 at the border. Spend the money to see a new place.
HR Managers: As an employer, do I need to track I-94 for my employees?
You should always track the "Admit Until Date" for your foreign national employees. This can get complicated very quickly, so here is what we suggest you can do -
I-9 Verification - when you do an I-9 verification, along with verifying the passport and visa, you should also verify the I-797 and the latest I-94 of the foreign national employee.
Change of Status - If your employee gets a new visa or a visa extension in the US through Change of Status, then their I-797 will come with an I-94 attached to it. This I-94 and the Admit Until Date on it supersedes any previous admit until or expiration date.
Consular Processing - If your employee gets a new visa or a visa extension through consular processing, then the I-94 that they receive from the CBP when they return to the U.S. supersedes any previous I-94 or the visa expiration date. You should track the date on this I-94.
Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult a WayLit-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional.