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My old passport is expiring on Jun 18. 2015.

Problem:

Upon entry to US in Jan 2015 on H-1B visa, officials at San Francisco airport put a "Valid entry till" stamp to date: Jun 18, 2015, the day my passport expires. Moreover, my I-94 has the same date mentioned against "Admit until date". So legally, I can live in US till this date only.

Visa on old passport is valid till 2017 though.

To Dos:

I have a new passport now and I am planing my next move for following:

  1. Get my I-94 updated to a date in 2017 when my H-1B is expiring
  2. Get new "Valid till" stamp on my passport which I got at airport when I entered US.

In-efficient Solution:

Here is a solution I know:

Go to my home country (Pakistan) and come back into US using the new passport + old passport.
Commute time: ~18 hours of flight time one way (not counting layovers)
Ticket expense: $2600

Notes:

  • I don't have visa to any other country in the World.
  • I went to USCIS office in San Francisco to try to get this problem resolved by avoiding the inefficient solution mentioned above.
  • A police officer at USCIS told me that I have to file I-129 for extension of I-94 if I don't want to leave US.
  • Lawyer of company I work for advises that I do not need to file I-129 as I already have an approved I-797.
  • The police officer also said that if I plan to go to Mexico or Canada and then come back into US, in order to resolve this problem, I cannot stay there for like 1 hour and come back into US. She said I have to have live for at least 30 days there before coming back to US. I don't know what kind of law is that. The lady was speaking harshly so I didn't ask explanation for the rule.

Now, I am at the verge of buying a return ticket to Pakistan and wanted to find out if someone else knows a confirmed, legal and efficient way of not leaving US and still getting a new stamp in my new passport as well as getting my I-94 updated?

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Thank you all for helping. Doing it via Lawyer wasn't cost effective for me. Similarly, going to Pakistan wasn't a good option in my case. So, I ended up going to San Diego. Crossed the border with Mexico on foot and came back into US right-away an hour later. While coming back in, I went into the line for updating I-94, waited in line for 2 hours. (There was another long line there too. Don't waste time in wrong line).

Immigration officers asked for offer letter from my employer for proof of my employment, proof of residence, pay stubs. Once they were satisfied, they stamped my old passport and issued me a new I-94.The immigration officer also asked with a surprised face, if I came to Mexico just for this? To which I said, "Yes". He did not look happy. :)

They stamped by old passport instead of the new one because the officer maintained that they can only stamp the passport which has my visa affixed to and he asked me to keep both passports with myself while traveling. So, I have both passport stapled to each other now. :)

Overall, the trip was interesting and I happen to spend some time in San Diego as well. But if I had Canadian visa, I would have travelled there instead of Mexico.

Tip No. 1: While waiting in long line to enter back in US from Mexico, a Mexican couple told me to avoid traveling across US-Mexico border on weekends. They said that on weekends, the lines are much larger as people move a lot across the border for eating their favorite burritos or meet their loved ones. :D

Tip No. 2: If you are in US on H1b visa, you don't need a visa to travel to Mexico. (At-least, that was the case, when I went to Mexico for an hour in 2015). I never got a visa to Mexico.

Tip No. 3: Whenever you get a new passport, always go for the one which has farther expiry date. Both time, I got passport which is valid for only 5 years. I heard some countries have passports valid for 10 years but you have to pay more for it. I think it is worth it to pay more.

Safe travels!

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This is something that should be resolved by the company's lawyer.

Neither the DHS officer (these are not police) nor the lawyer are correct.

You do not need to go back to Pakistan.

You need to file the "change of status" form (I-539). It is also used to request extension of status. Once approved, the approval notice will include the new I-94.

Verify with the company lawyer (and make sure he actually helps you and properly answers your questions).

As to the stamp in your passport (you mean the visa, I'm guessing) - you can only get it in the US consulate abroad. But unless you plan to travel - you don't need it.

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    I don't think I need to file I-539, as my visa is H1B and the link you shared mentions extensions of B1, M1 etc. – Usman Jun 1 '15 at 3:16
  • @baltusaj so why did you ask the question, if you think you know the answer? – littleadv Jun 1 '15 at 4:55
  • @littleadv the stamp mentioned is more likely the inked rubber stamp that includes the words "class" and "until", next to a blank line where the officer writes a date that defines how long the person can stay. Sometimes, they write "d/s" or "dos", meaning duration of status, and sometimes, e. g. with citizens and presumably permanent residents, they write nothing at all. – phoog Jun 1 '15 at 16:37
  • @phoog oh that one is meaningless. – littleadv Jun 1 '15 at 19:02
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    Thank you all for helping. Doing it via Lawyer wasn't cost effective for me. Similarly, going to Pakistan wasn't a good option in my case. So, I ended up going to San Diego. Crossed the border with Mexico and came back into US right-away. While coming in back to US, I went into the line for updating I-94, waited in line for 2 hours. (Tip: Don't cross the border on weekend for avoiding rush). Immigration officers asked for offer letter, proof of residence, pay stubs. Once they were satisfied, they stamped my old passport and issued me new I-94. – Usman Jun 15 '15 at 23:08

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