Expiration of passport could affect your visa status

Dear Atty. Gurfinkel:
I was petitioned by an employer for an H-1B visa, which was issued in Manila, and I arrived in the US in September 2012. Although my H-1B visa is valid until August 2015, the immigration officer at the airport issued my I-94 (arrival/departure record), giving me only until November 2014. If the visa is valid until 2015, why did the immigration officer at the airport cut my time short? What is the operative date for my status, November 2014 (the date on the I-94) or August 2015 (the validity period of my H-1B visa)? I need to know in connection with filing for an extension.
Very truly yours,
G.D.
 
Dear G.D.:
Ordinarily, when a person enters the US on an H-1B visa, they may remain in the US for the validity period of that visa. However, many people do not realize that if their passport will expire before the H-1B petition validity period, the CBP will typically issue the Form I-94 with an expiration date that coincides with the passport expiration date, and not through the validity period of the H-1B visa.
In your case, although your H-1B visa was approved through August 2015, your passport was probably expiring in November 2014. Therefore, you may remain in America up through the date on the I-94, which is the expiration date of your passport. Therefore, in filing an extension request, it should be before the expiration date of the I-94. Otherwise, you could be considered “out of status” after that date. And make sure you renew your passport!
In addition, CBP no longer issues the white I-94 card, which they had stapled in a person’s passport. Instead, a person must go online at the CBP website (https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/request.html), and access and print out their I-94, which I would recommend to all non-immigrants coming to the US (whether as visitors, workers, etc.), to make sure their arrival is properly recorded, in the proper visa classification, and so the person will know how long they are authorized to remain in America. Many people coming to the US were surprised that, “They did not issue me an I-94 anymore.” That is because the information is now online.
Therefore, if anyone was ever approved for certain validity period, but their passport would expire before the end of that validity period, make sure you check your I-94, and file for any extensions before you go out of status.

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Michael J. Gurfinkel is licensed, and an active member of the State Bar of California and New York. All immigration services are provided by, or under the supervision of, an active member of the State Bar of California. Each case is different. The information contained herein including testimonials, “Success Stories,” endorsements and re-enactments) is of a general nature, and is not intended to apply to any particular case, and does not constitute a prediction, warranty, guarantee or legal advice regarding the outcome of your legal matter. No attorney-client relationship is, or shall be, established with any reader.
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