Multiple Entries to the US with the same I-94 Form: Just for Canadian Residents

I am a Permanent Resident of Canada (Landed Immigrant) and I got a B-2 Visitor Visa which I used in order to travel to the United States of America for 15 days.

I crossed the border at the Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls. In the American side of the bridge there is a US Point of Entry, in which I was requested for my papers. I presented my Cuban Passport with a one time B-2 Visitor Visa to the American Officer controlling the crossing. The officer kept my passport and redirected me to one office located just a few meters further.

I waited for 40 minutes and I was called for an interview with another officer. He asked for the purpose of the trip, the intended duration of the stay, my destinations within the States, the means of returning back (flight and bus tickets) [1], my relation to the people I was visiting in the US, and things like that.

The officer issued an I-94 Form, that he stapled onto my passport. I paid a $6.00 USD fee for the I-94 Form and my passport was returned to me. - Make sure you have exactly $6.00 USD (cash) if you want to get this done quickly. You can pay with credit card as well, but it takes more time-

The I-94 Form was issued for 6 moths, meaning that I was permitted to stay in the US until the expiry date, 6 months later.


In my way back to Canada I crossed the Rainbow Bridge again (in the opposite direction). This time I was stopped by a Canadian Custom Officer. She asked for my papers: I gave her my passport and my Canadian Resident Card [2]. She asked pretty much the same questions that the American Officer did, and she also inquired about any merchandize that I was bringing from the US.

I was expecting her to remove the I-94 from the passport, but she didn’t. Usually, you need to surrender your I-94 when leaving the US, but it seems that Canadian Residents can use the same I-94 Form (if not expired) to re-entry to the US multiple times. It seems that you can do this regardless of the validity of your Visa: the only thing taken into consideration is that the I-94 Form has to be valid.

Looking for extra validation of my theory I found this post. I am extracting the main juice below:

You don't have to get a new I-94 every time
you enter the USA. How do I know ?, because
I've being traveling to the USA for the past
4.5 years and using the same I-94 until its
expiry date. In fact the INS officer told me
that I did not have to turn in the I-94 if I
intent to enter the USA prior to the expiry
date.

I also talked to a few friends who confirmed that they used the I-94 Form to re-enter the US from Canada, even after their visa was expired. 

I looked furthermore to validate this theory and I found out that:

If taking short trips (30 days or less) to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean Islands during the course of your visit to the U.S., hold onto your I-94 or I-94 (W); it should only be turned in when you leave the U.S. to return home. [U.S. Department of State]

After this, I was pretty confident of my theory and I went to the US a second time. This time I crossed the border at the Peace Bridge. I was not expecting any problems: my visa was expired, but my I-94 was not. You know what? I did have a problem…

The American officer told me that they allow most people visiting the US to re-enter by just using the I-94 (if not expired). The problem in my case is that I am a Cuban national. Cubans (among other nationalities) are taken especial care by the US government. That meant that I was not able to use my I-94 Form to re-enter the US.

I was very disappointed, but the American officer wanted to support my case. She noticed that I made an honest mistake. So, she took my finger prints, made me fill some forms and with that, she supported my case with her superiors. Not even her immediate superior was able to allow me enter the US. So, the whole process took like 3 hours and of course, I lost my bus and the plane.

After all this, they gave me a waiver, which is a one time permit to enter the US without a visa. I was glad at this point, because those Americans officers helped me while they were enforcing the law. They removed the original 6 months I-94 from my passport, and they re-issued a new one for just one week (I was going this time for the weekend; so it was good enough for me).

They explicitly told me to surrender this new I-94 Form to the Canadian custom officer in my way back to Canada. I did that of course. Note that you have to advise the Canadian officer to remove the I-94 from your passport. The Canadian officer does not remove it if you don’t ask.

So, the conclusion if that you can use the I-94 Form (if not expired) to re-enter the US from Canada, but this does NOT apply to nationals of Cuba, Iran, Syria, and Sudan. This list could change at any moment. 

Disclaimer: This is based on my own experience as a Permanent Resident of Canada. You should not consider this a legal advice or whatsoever.

Just one more thing, after all this hassle I got a new B2-Visitor Visa to enter the US. So, I will be going soon to the States. This time I don’t expect any problems :-)

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[1] I was traveling from Toronto to Buffalo by land; passing though Niagara Falls. Then, I was traveling from Buffalo to Miami by air. I used that route backwards in my way back.
[2] Don’t forget your Canadian Resident Card. You need it to re-enter Canada.

7 comments:

  1. That was very informational, thank you.

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  2. Vivo en Venezuela como consigo hacer todo eso? soy de profesion obrero de empresas de alimentos y papeleras.

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    Replies
    1. Read the post please. I have no other info to provide other than the one above.

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  3. That was helpful to me! Thank you so much!!!

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  4. Iranian here on the same boat, thank you for your info!

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