How long can I stay in the US?


How long can I stay in the US?

If you are not a US citizen, or green card holder, when you  are inspected at the US border, you will be admitted for specific amount of time (a period of lawful admission) .  It is important to pay attention to this admission period.  If you stay longer than permitted by your last entry to the US, you may be overstaying your entry.  If you overstay, you could be deported. If you overstay for 6 months or more, you could be barred from returning to the US for three years once you leave the US.  This bar increase to 10 years, if you overstay for 12 months or more.

How Do I Know How Long I can Stay in the US?

If you enter the US by Air or Sea:

  • All travelers by air or sea receive an electronic Arrival-Departure Card, Form I-94. In the past, this was a white card that the border officer stapled into your passport.
  • Now Form I-94 is issued electronically. This means that you no longer receive a piece of paper that tells you how long you are permitted to stay. You must go online to print a copy of your I-94.
  • To get a copy of your Form-I-94, go to
  • Below is a sample of an electronic Form I-94.

Electronic i-94

  • In addition to an electronic Form I-94, the border officer will place an entry stamp in your passport. This stamp includes the date you entered the US and the date when you must leave the US.

If you enter the US by Land:

  • You will receive a paper Form I-94. This form includes your admission period.
  • Below is a sample of a paper form I-94.


  • You will also receive an entry stamp in your passport that includes the date you entered the US and the date when you must leave the US.
  • Below is a sample entry stamp.

Entry Stamp US

  • Canadians do not usually receive a paper Form I-94 at a land port of entry. Even if the border officer does not issue a paper Form I-94, Canadians are admitted to the US for a specific period. If you are from Canada, you should also go online to print your Form I-94, so that you will know the date when you must leave the US.

What is the difference between Form I-94 and a visa?

  • Unless you are from a Visa-Waiver country, you must get a visa from a US embassy or consulate to travel to the US. The time on the visa, the validity period, is not a period of admission. The validity period on your visa, gives you the time in which you can apply for entry at a US border. For example, if your visa is valid for five years, you can come to the US border at any time during those five years to ask to be admitted. The officer who inspects you at the border will provide you with an admission period. This admission period depends on the reason for your visit to the US. The admission period may be shorter than the time on your visa.
  • Below is a sample visa stamp.

Visa stamp

  • Remember to use the admission period on your Form I-94, not the validity period on your visa, to determine how long you may stay in the US.
  • If your visa expires during your admission period in the US, you will need to apply for another visa the next time you leave the US.

Can I apply for a longer admission period while I am in the US?

In some cases, foreign nationals may apply to extend their stay in the US, or to change to another category of admission.  For example, some students who have completed their time in student status may be able to apply for an employment-based visa.

If you would like our help in determining what choices you might have to extend your stay in the US, or change your immigration status, contact our office for a consultation at

New Naturalization Form Required Beginning 12/22/2016



New Naturalization Form Required Beginning 12/22/2016

USCIS as issued a new form to apply for naturalization (US citizenship). Beginning December 22, 2016 USCIS will only accept the 9/29/2016 edition of this form.  If you file a form dated earlier that 9/29/2016 your application will be rejected.  The date for the form is on the right at the bottom of Form N-400.

For tips on applying for naturalization click on Naturalization Tips.

Stay Tuned for Immigration Updates


Stay Tuned for Immigration Updates!

Immigration has been a hot topic in the recent election.  For those of you who have approved applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), or who are eligible to apply, this program is still in effect.  We have no information on how this program will be treated going forward.  We want to let you know that we will be closely monitoring this program, and other developments in immigration, and will post updates as they become available.

Click on DACA for more information on this program as it exists now.

Renewing Green Card While Applying for Naturalization


Renewing Green Card While Applying for Naturalization

Do I Need to file an application to renew my green card after I have filed my application for naturalization (US citizenship)?

According to the most recent information from USCIS, if your existing green card has at least 6 months of validity left on it when you file your application for naturalization, you do not need to file Form I-90 to renew your green card.  In this case, you are eligible to receive a stamp in your passport as temporary proof of permanent residence without filing form I-90.  You may request this stamp by making an InfoPass appointment with a local USCIS office.  You may make an InfoPass appointment at the USCIS website


If your green card will expire within 6 months of filing your application for naturalization, you must file an application to renew your green card by filing Form I-90. To receive a stamp in your passport as temporary proof of permanent residence, you must provide USCIS with an I-90 filing receipt notice.



In order to avoid the filing fee for an I-90, as long as you are eligible to apply for naturalization, you should file your naturalization application while your green card is valid for at least 6 months.  Please contact our office if you would like more information on eligibility for naturalization.


Passport Update



Passport Pages:  Beginning January 1, 2016, the US Department of State will no longer add  visa pages to US passports.  After that date passport holders who need more pages for entry  or exit stamps will need to apply for a new passport.  The State Department made this change to enhance passport security. Requests for additional passport pages will only be accepted until December 31, 2015.  For information on how and where to apply for a passpot visit Travel.State.Gov/ApplyEarly

Work Permit Delayed?



Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

Work Permit Delayed? 

Most green card applicants file an application for employment authorization along with their application for a green card. This temporary permission to work allows green card applicants to work while waiting for a decision on the green card application. It should be issued within 90 days of filing the application.

What can you do if your work permit application is pending  for more than 75 days?

Call the Immigration Service National Customer Service Center (NSCS) at 800-375-5283 and ask for a service request. The NVC will send this request to the service center that is processing your case.

– The NVC will ask for your filing receipt number when you call. This number can be found near the top of the notice you receive after you file an immigration application.

What can delay your work authorization?

  • If the Immigration Service asks for more initial information, the 90-day clock will start over from the date that the Immigration Service receives this initial evidence.
  • What is “Initial Evidence?”
  • – Any document or form that is specifically required by the form instructions, including the correct immigration filing fee. Read the form instructions carefully to be sure that you are sending the correct filing fee.
  • If the Immigration asks for additional evidence, the 90 day clock will stop when the request is send and start again when the additional evidence is received.
  • What is “Additional Evidence?”
  • – Evidence not required by the form instructions, but which may help the Immigration Service decide whether you are eligible for a green card.
  • If you request that your fingerprinting (biometrics) appointment be rescheduled, the 90 day clock will start over from the date you request a new appointment.

Tips to Avoid Delays in Getting your Work Permission

  • Submit a complete application and all the required documents when you file your application for a green card.
  • Provide additional evidence that shows you are eligible for a green card. For example, if you are applying for a marriage-based green card, include as much evidence of your relationship as possible.
  • Try to avoid asking that your fingerprinting appointment be rescheduled.

Applying for a Green Card of Fiance(e) Visa at a US Embassy?



Four Tips for Working with the National Visa Center (NVC)

The NVC processes applications before they sent to a US Embassy abroad.  It processes green card applications and applications for fiance(e) visas. Once the NVC has received the correct fees, forms and documents, it sends the file to a US Embassy for a visa interview.  You will find helpful information in working with the NVC below.

1.NVC Website

Provides answers to Frequently Asked Questions at:

FAQ’s in English  or FAQ’s in Spanish


2. Documents

Send copies of documents NOT the original documents to the NVC.  This includes birth certificates. The green card applicant must bring the original documents to the visa interview.


3. Mailing Documents to the NVC

Mail all document sin one envelope and include the cover sheet provided by the NVC in this envelope.


4. US Embassy Website

After scheduling a green card interview appointment, visit the US Embassy website for the embassy where you will be interviewed. The website will include the most recent information on the required medical appointment and processing fees required by the embassy.

Immigration Musical


Immigration Musical: A fun posting, for a change of pace.  Gloria Estefan and her husband, Emilio, have created a musical to share their music and their immigration experience. They want to offer some balance to the immigration debate that often focuses on fear of immigrants. For more information visit On Your Feet

Read Chicago Tribune Review of On Your Feet.

How do I find a doctor for my immigration medical exam?

Dr Med Exam


Most people who apply for a green card need to find a doctor authorized by USCIS (called a civil surgeon) to perform a medical exam.  The medical exam results are submitted to USCIS along with the forms and other documents.  USCIS announced today that is is providing an online tool to help find a doctor by zip code.  For help in finding a doctor near you click on USCIS doctors. Remember to ask the doctor for a copy of the forms he or she will give to you to submit to the USCIS.

President Obama Interview by Stephen Colbert

President Obama was a good sport in his interview with Stephen Colbert joking about his emperor status and praising the contributions of immigrants to the US. Obama Interview