- What document proves your legal entry into the United States?
- If I travel overseas and lose my visa, what do I do?
- I am a non-U.S. citizen and have overstayed my visitor visa. Will I be able to come back to the U.S. and/or extend my current stay?
- Can I file for citizenship even though I can't find my green card?
- I have a work visa and full-time job in the US. If I travel outside the country for work, will I be able re-enter?
^ What document proves your legal entry into the United States?
Upon your admission to the U.S., Customs and Border Protection (CBP) gives you evidence of your admission to the U.S. by issuing you an I-94 (Arrival and Departure Record). Previously, this was a small card that CBP stapled into your passport. Now, however, all I-94 admission records are electronic and the CBP officer stamps a visitor’s passport with the admission date, class of admission, and the date by which they must depart.
Once you have entered into the U.S., It is essential that you check the I-94 information entered electronically by CBP officers to make sure that the period of your authorized stay in the U.S. that is indicated in the database is correct. To access your electronic I-94 record, go to: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home.
For those persons who received a paper copy of an I-94, because they entered the U.S. before the new automated system went into effect, upon exiting they should surrender it to the commercial carrier or to CBP upon departure. Otherwise, CBP will record the departure electronically via manifest information provided by the carrier or by CBP.
^ If I travel overseas and lose my U.S.-issued visa, what do I do?
First, it is very important that you make a copy of your passport biographic page, U.S. visa, and admission stamp as soon as possible after your arrival in the U.S., and keep these records in a safe place.
If you are a foreign citizen temporarily in the U.S. and lose your U.S. visa, you can remain for the duration of your authorized stay, as shown on your admission stamp or paper Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record). You will need only a valid passport to depart the U.S. and to enter another country. If you were issued a paper I-94 and it was lost/stolen, you must get it replaced immediately (https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home).
Reporting that your visa was lost/stolen
- Report it the local police, and be sure to retain a copy of the police report.
- Email the Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside the United States which issued your visa and report it to them. Provide your full name, date of birth, place of birth, U.S. address, and an email address (if available), including whether the visa was lost or stolen. If you have a copy of the visa, scan and email this to the embassy or consulate. Otherwise, if known, report the category of visa, and the passport number from the lost/stolen visa.
- Apply in person, at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad, for a replacement visa. As part of the application process, you will need to provide a written account document-ing the loss of your visa and include a copy of the police report.
If you have already reported your visa lost/stolen to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate but later find it, this “old” visa will be no longer be valid for future travel to the U.S.
^ I am a non-U.S. citizen and have overstayed my visitor visa. Can I extend my current stay? If not, will I be able to return to the U.S., and if so, when?
While anyone can file an application to extend their visa, if your stay—as shown on your stamped passport or your I-94 arrival-departure document—has already expired, immigration authorities will usually not grant an extension of stay. If you believe compelling unforeseen circumstances beyond your control prevented you from filing on time, explain them in your application and include any documents to support your claim.
The visa overstay issue has received increased focus under the Trump administration, which has indicated that immigrants who have overstayed visas will be among the administration's enforcement priorities.
Some of the consequences of overstaying your visa status are:
- Visa overstays may be barred from returning to the U.S. for ten years, or three years, depending on the period of overstay.
- Visa overstays may be barred from applying for Extension of Stay or Change of Status.
- Visa overstays will have their existing visa automatically revoked or cancelled.
- Visa overstays are generally unable to obtain a new visa except in their country of nationality.
- Visa overstays may not be able to adjust their status in the U.S. even if otherwise eligible.
^ Can I file for citizenship even though I can't find my green card?
You have to get your lost green card replaced before filing for naturalization. File Form I-90 (Application to Replace Current Resident Card) and pay a fee of $455.00. You may submit this form and the fee online (www.uscis.gov/file-online).
After the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service receives your application, it will inform you in writing (or by email if you filed electronically filed your application) if you also need to make a biometric services appointment. This would require that you appear for an interview or provide fingerprints, a photograph, a signature, or other information to verify your identity. Should a biometric appointment be required, a fee of $85.00 will be assessed.
Once you receive the receipt notice for having filed the I-90, you can go ahead and file N-400, Application for Naturalization. You do not need to wait for the new green card to start the naturalization application process.
^ I have a work visa and full-time job in the US. If I travel outside the country for work, will I be able re-enter?
Yes, you can travel outside the U.S. and will be allowed to reenter. However, you would be wise to carry the following documents with you so that upon reentry, you can verify your status to border authorities, if questioned:
- Valid passport (ideally not with a soon-to-be-expiring date)
- Valid H visa for reentry to U.S.
- Letter from your employer confirming your current employment in the same position described in your H1 petition
- Recent check stubs proving your current employment
- Copy of complete H-1B petition filed with the CIS