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Immigration Issues/I-94 Waiting For Answer


QUESTION: Hello, I'm sure this is a common question but I could not find the answer here. I am in the US on a Business Visa. I requested an extension in November 2007 and had to submit my I-94 along with that request and $300. About 1 month later I received an acknowledgement letter.

Since then, I have heard nothing more. When I use the USCIS web site to check the status of my request, it simply says that it is still "pending".

In my extension letter I proved that I have a return ticket to my country (Brazil) dated March 30. However, since I have not yet heard a response to my request, I would like to remain in the U.S. as long as possible--until I do get the response. I have an open ticket with Continental and can return at any time.

Am I allowed to stay in the U.S. until I receive the response? Does it matter that the response will arrive AFTER the date I had requested and will I get in trouble now or in the future if I stayed beyond the date I had requested while I awaited the response? Finally, am I allowed to leave the country while the decision is pending and with only a copy of my I-94 and "pending" letter from USCIS?

Thank you so much for any advice.
-- Spencer

ANSWER: You muist leave by the date you requested for the extension. The extension application is not a priority item for Immigration and they often do not respond. Nevertheless, you must leave by March 30 if that is what you requested. If you receive a denial before then you must leave within 10 days of the decision.



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


Thank you so much for your reply.

How can the government not reply? I had spent $300 to request the extension--I understand that there is a backlog but I never expected that I would NEVER receive a reply.

What is confusing to me is that I was always under the impression that one can remain legally in the United States while an I-94 extension decision is pending... But I never considered the date requested as the default date on which one must leave. Is this rule cited somewhere? Is the requested date logged somewhere in my personal profile with immigration such that they will know if I had stayed beyond my promised departure date versus the date that USCIS told me I have to go in their [eventual] response?

Finally, will Contenintal give me trouble boarding without an official I-94 (I have only a copy of mine)?

Thank you again,
-- Spencer

ANSWER: By not replying they are saying it is okay to stay for the time you requested. If tyhey respond to you even after the date, the validity will only be until the date you requested. Continental will not care if you do not have your I-94. It is a one way door - they only care coming in that you are authoirzed.

if you try to overstay the time you requested you are risking being subject to a 3 or 10 year bar once you leave it is has been more than 180 after you requested.



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Robert,

Thank you again. I think you stated (above) that one can be barred for 3-10 years if they stay in the United States more than 180 days after their requested date. If that's true then it begs the questions: What if someone stays few than 180 days--such as an extra month? Any penalty there?

I have one more follow-up that should help others in this situation. I understand that Continental doesn't care about the I-94. But when I renew my visa in Brazil I can only wonder how the consulate will know that I in fact left the U.S. on a particular date if I did not turn in an I-94 upon my departure. I imagine that the burden of proof would be on me and I would need to submit a copy of my extension request, the extension request pending letter I had received from USCIS, and perhaps a copy of my airline ticket and/or stub. If I do all these things then isn't it likely that I will have no trouble renewing the visa and would have no trouble (theoretically) with immigration should I arrive again in the U.S. on a subsequent visit?

(By the way, I don't take your time/knowledge for granted and the donation of your time to help people like me is most sincerely appreciated.)

Thank you,
-- Spencer

Overstays of less than 180 days do not statutorily bar one from reentry but can be considred on any future visa applciation whcih can be denied in their wide discretion.

The burden is on you to prove when you left and that you applied for a timely extension.



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Robert Hollander<B> Esq.</B>



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