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Length of Stay is Determined by My I-94 Form (Arrival-Departure Record, Form I-94 Card) -- NOT My Visa

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As a nonimmigrant (on a US visa), your permission to remain in the United States is determined by your I-94 Form (Arrival-Departure Record, Form I-94 Card), which may have a shorter validity than your US visa.

A US visa is a permit to apply to enter the United States. It issued by the U.S. State Department and usually obtained at an American consulate outside the United States. It classifies the visit as business, tourism, etc. and is usually valid for multiple visits to the United States during a specified period of time.

Once you receive a visa, you are authorized to travel to the United States. However, a visa does not guarantee that you will be allowed to enter the United States. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) , a separate government agency, has authority to grant or deny your admission to the United States. In addition, the CBP -- not the term of your visa -- will determine how long you may stay in the United States.

When you enter the country on a US visa as a nonimmigrant, a CBP officer examines your passport and visa and then gives you a small white card, the CBP I-94 Form (Arrival-Departure Record, Form I-94 Card). This I-94 Form -- not your visa -- should tell you (in the lower right-hand corner) when you must leave the United States. On the I-94 Form, the CBP officer writes either a date or "D/S" (duration of status). If you have "duration of status" on your I-94 Form you may remain in the U.S. as long as you are in the same job (or school) or same category of job.

If you want to stay longer than the date authorized by your CBP I-94 Form, you must apply for an extension with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Proof that you are willing to obey U.S. immigration laws will be important if you want to travel to the United States in the future. The decision to grant or deny a request for extension of stay is made solely by the USCIS. In some cases, you may not be eligible to apply for an extension. Also, the USCIS generally will not extend your stay longer than the validity of your visa. For more information, including what you should file if your stay has expired due to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control, see Extend US Visa Status (I-94 Form I-94 Card): Visa Extension to Stay Longer on My Visit to USA

HELP! with I-94 Form and US Visa Questions

  • Have a specific question? To help you find an answer quickly, we have placed "Ask a Visa & Immigration Lawyer" boxes on this page. Simply type a question in any of the boxes to receive a response online from a visa and immigration lawyer.

  • You may contact U.S. Customs and Border Protection directly by calling the CBP Customer Service Center at 1-877-227-5511 or 703-526-4200.

  • If you are in the U.S. and would like to extend your stay, see Extend US Visa Status (I-94 Form I-94 Card): Visa Extension to Stay Longer on My Visit to USA

  • If you are in the U.S. and have a question about your length of stay, you may contact your nearest USCIS District Office or Sub Office or call the national USCIS toll-free information service at 1-800-375-5283. Be aware that if you have broken immigration laws, you may be subject to removal (deportation) from the U.S.

  • If you are in the U.S. and have visa questions, contact the State Department's Visa Office at 202-663-1225. You may also email a general inquiry to Be sure to indicate the general subject of your inquiry on the subject line (e.g., student visa, visitor visa, worker visa, etc.), and do not expect an immediate reply. You may also write to:

    U.S. Department of State
    Visa Services
    Washington, DC 20520-0113

  • If you are outside the U.S. and have questions about visas or length of stay, contact the nearest U.S. Consulate
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The National Association of Foreign-Born