For non-citizens arriving in the United States, it is essential to know the dates you are authorized to stay. You will need to differentiate the dates on your visa in your passport from your I-94 "Arrival-Departure Record" that you receive from Customs and Border Protection ("CBP").
VISAA visa allows you to arrive at a port-of-entry and seek admission into the United States. It will have your biographical information and state which type visa classification (such as a visitor, or student). It will also have an issue date and an expiration date. The expiration date is not the date by which you are authorized to remain in the United States, it is the last date that you can seek entry. Once you enter the United States with your visa, your authorized length of stay is governed by your I-94.
I-94 Arrival-Departure Record
Your I-94 is essentially your admission ticket into the United States. You will have a stamp showing your entry and a date by which you must leave the country. The I-94 pictured above is a physical I-94. CBP has transitioned to an electronic version you can access through their website. You simply input your information to obtain a copy.
CAN I STAY LONGER?
You must depart the country before the "Admit Until Date" listed on your I-94 (essentially, your admission expiration date). If your visa is still valid and you want to extend your stay, or you want to transition to a different class of admission, you can submit an application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. However, this must be done well in advance of your I-94 expiration date. If you submit the request too late, you run the risk of overstaying your visa in violation of U.S. immigration laws. This could prevent you from being able to lawfully reenter the country in the future.
If you have questions about your visa, I-94, or extending/changing your status, give Saenz & Maniatis a call at (615) 366-1211. You can visit our website for more information on services, and check out our blog on read more here on why hiring an attorney is essential when dealing with immigration authorities.