The United States issues various non-immigrant and immigrant visas granting permission for applicants to enter the United States. A visa does not guarantee entry into the U.S. A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to the U.S. port-of-entry, and the Department of Homeland Security U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) immigration inspector authorizes or denies admission to the United States.
Why does my visa expire in five years?
A visa must be valid at the time a traveler seeks admission to the U.S., but the expiration date of the visa has no relation to the length of time a temporary visitor may be authorized by the Department of Homeland Security to remain in the United States. Persons holding visas valid for multiple entries may make repeated trips to the U.S., for travel for the same purpose, as long as the visa has not expired, and the traveler has done nothing to become ineligible to enter the U.S., at port of entry.
What should I do if my valid visa is in an expired passport? Do I need to apply for a new visa with my new passport?
No. If your visa is still valid you can travel to the United States with your two passports, as long as the visa is valid, not damaged, and is the appropriate type of visa required for your principal purpose of travel. Both passports (the valid and the expired one with the visa) should be from the same country and type.
When you arrive at the United States port of entry (POE) the Customs and Border Protection Immigration Officer will check your visa in the old passport and if s/he decides to admit you into the United States that officer will stamp your new passport with an admission stamp along with the annotation “VIOPP” (visa in other passport). Do not try to remove the visa from your old passport and stick it into the new valid passport. If you do so, your visa will no longer be valid.
How long am I authorized to stay in the U.S.?
At the port of entry, upon granting entry to the U.S., the Department of Homeland Security, US immigration inspector, provides you a small white card, Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record in your passport. Visa Waiver Programme travelers receive Form 1-94W. On this form, the U.S. immigration inspector records either a date or “D/S” (duration of status).
If your I-94 contains a specific date, then that is the date by which you must leave the United States. Your Form I-94, or I-94W is a very important document to keep in your passport, since it shows your permission to be in the U.S.
If I have dual citizenship, which passport should I use for travel to the U.S.?
All U.S. citizens, even dual citizens/nationals, must enter and depart the United States using his/her U.S. passport.
Gail S. Seeram, LL.M, J.D., BBA, is a U.S. Immigration Attorney that handles cases involving family petitions, marriage-based petitions, business/investor visas, citizenship, international adoption, deportation, asylum, work authorization and extension of status. Call her office at 407-292-7730, email questions to [email protected], visit her website at www.Go2Lawyer.com or connect on facebook at www.facebook.com/Go2Lawyer.
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