Foreign nationals inside the U.S. are required to maintain a valid passport at all times. Due to potential delays in passport renewals during the COVID-19 pandemic, foreign nationals should seek to renew expiring passports as early as possible. Valid passports are required for a variety of immigration benefits such as temporary status renewals, green card applications, driver’s license renewals, and international travel.
While it is permissible to travel internationally on a soon-to-expire passport, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the port-of-entry have the authority and discretion to shorten the I-94 admission record to match the traveler’s passport expiration. Upon each re-entry to the U.S., all foreign nationals must check and verify their I-94 record here. The I-94 record, and not the visa stamp, passport, or I-797 approval notice, dictates the authorized validity period inside the U.S. If an individual’s I-94 is truncated due to a soon-to-expire passport, simply renewing the passport does not extend the I-94 admission period. Status can only be extended by timely seeking an extension of stay with U.S. Immigration or by departing the U.S. and reentering on the new passport with a valid visa and I-797 approval notice. Failure to take note of the expiration date listed on the I-94 record can result in unknowingly overstaying the lawful period of admission, which can result in severe immigration consequences including a three (3) year, ten (10) year, or permanent bar to admission.